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Help Michele's Horrendous Shingles Infection

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Dear Friends,

UPDATE: Last Tuesday, June 6, I had surgery to remove two wonky parathyroid glands, likely the cause of my shingles and a number of other previously unexplained conditions. Both my doctor and my surgeon said surgery would be like "flicking a switch" and that I would not believe how great I felt. The surgical team also said that I should have little if any pain following surgery. They were wrong. I was in extreme pain for the first five days. It is finally declining but I still have limited painless range of motion with my head and the incision hurts constantly. I have not yet showered (will try today) and have had my grandson staying with me and helping me with whatever I need. .

Through all this, I have not been miserable. I have a core of strength and optimism that has not been impacted by this full year of illness. It hasn't been a walk in the park, that's for sure, but I haven't lost myself, either. I am feeling bursts of creative energy that I am hoping to use on new projects beginning next week.

Many many thanks to everyone who has has made a contribution. Your generosity has allowed me to get through this time without worrying about the consequences of not working as much as I typically do. And now, ONWARD to new books and some surprised that I will announce in July.

UPDATE: My brilliant doctor, Elizabeth Flower discovered an underlying cause to my shingles infection. I have a compromised parathyroid gland. We have four and the only job these glands have is to regulate calcium and phosphorus. When one goes wonky, it causes big trouble, including shingles, insomnia, exhaustion, nausea, vomiting, brain fog, and bone pain, all of which I have. There are other symptoms which, so far, I don't have and won't develop before surgery, currently scheduled for June 6. I have been sick for over a year, as the impact of the compromised gland was operative for quite some time before I came down with shingles. Surgery is considered a complete cure and I will begin to feel better immediately after surgery. By the end of June, I should be back to my energetic, clear-headed self. Because of all this, I have raised my goal and extended my fundraiser.
As many of you know, I came down with a horrendous case of oral/facial/cranial shingles in late June. I was nearly completely incapacitated for more than two months. I'm now in what I call the third stage, known as PHN, or post-herpetic neuralgia. No one knows when or if it will heal. It could go away in weeks, and sometimes I think it is resolving as spots on my scalp are healing. Or, it could last for the rest of my life. My tongue, my lower jaw, my chin, part of my right cheek, and my right ear are still numb, with intermittent bouts of extreme pain. The pain resembles a rug burn with shooting pains that feel like an icepick is being hammered into the bones on the right side of my face. If I stick with my drug regimen and apply various topicals, it is manageable. At times, the pain increases and breaks through during the night.

When I came down with shingles, I was just a few weeks from launching my new endeavor, editorial services. Now I will not be able to launch it for several more weeks and possibly months. With your help, I should be able to put everything in place for a mid-winter launch.

And so I come to my community for help. There are some long term reasons that I find myself in this position. I have a multifaceted career, and I have always treated everything I do as seriously, whether or not financial gain is part of the picture. For 27 years, I hosted "Mouthful, Smart Talk About Food, Wine, & Farming In the North Bay and Beyond" on KRCB-FM. The show, which I founded and produced for the last 10 or 15 years and co-produced before that, has received four James Beard Award nominations, putting it alongside NPR programs and other programs with a staff and budget. Mouthful was an all-volunteer effort; the only money involved is what I spent, though, for the last few years, the show's engineer was paid. I was not. I always thought the success of the show would launch me into other audio and video endeavors that would provide an income but that did not happen.

For five years, I wrote a column, Fresh From Our Farmers, for the Press Democrat, for free. An editor, who is now gone, talked me into doing it but refused to pay. "You may not want your work diluted. If you won't do it, I'll find someone who will." And so I did it.

I worked hard on these and other endeavors because it was the right thing to do. When I was doing Mouthful, I also made regular donations to the station. In addition, I brought in a large number of significant donations, including the station's first national underwriter.

I have donated my abilities as a chef to many nonprofits in Sonoma County. As I look back, I realize now that I took care of everyone but myself.

To make things even more challenging, pay for writers has plummeted since the recession of 2008. Book advances are a fraction of what they were. Magazine stories that once brought in $2k to $3k now pay between $400 and $800. I had to take a 50 percent reduction in what I make, as a regular freelancer, to keep my gig at the Press Democrat.

And so I am coming to my community, locally and beyond, with my hat in my hand, asking, humbly, for support. There are several ways to help. The obvious is a donation of any amount. But posting this campaign on social media and sending it via email or text to people who might help is just as important.

Instead of offering thank you gifts for various levels of donations, something I had considered, I am going to offer just two things. Anyone who makes a donation of any amount will be acknowledged in my next book. And I am always willing to answer any cooking questions, help plan menus, direct you to resources, and even send you recipes. There are a few people who reach out to me on a regular basis and I am always happy to help.

This campaign has gotten off to a great start, getting more than halfway to my original goal in fewer than 24 hours. I have adjusted my goal, making it closer to what I actually need and 9 is acknowledged around the world as a lucky number.

And so, let's do this, my dear friends! LET'S DO THIS!


  • Molly Kurland
    • $20 
    • 7 d
  • Sherry Kane
    • $35 
    • 15 d
  • Marion Deeds
    • $50 
    • 15 d
  • Julie Neumiller
    • $50 
    • 17 d
  • Candice Mick
    • $25 
    • 17 d


Michele Anna Jordan
Sebastopol, CA

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