A Real Character

Quite A Character!

Quite A Character!

You know how there are some people who tend to call attention to themselves with an extra loud voice or extravagantly dramatic behavior–as if they’re attempting to be on stage? Yeah, well, I speak with my hands, so some people might consider me to be one of those people. I might be. Hard to tell when you’re one of “those” people. Our kitty, Data (named after Star Trek’s artificial intelligence) has a right to spread out and claim his attention because he’s beautiful. Others? I wouldn’t advise it.

I call those attention seekers “characters.” They work well in a novel, but not all of them are fun. Some of them can seem downright obnoxious, and we still have to put up with them. Doing so graciously is a lesson I haven’t yet been able to grasp. I try. Honestly, I try.

Let’s consider a “character” we’ve had experience with recently. Let’s call her Gertrude (though I had a good friend by that name, and I’m not crazy about using it. Still, gotta name her something.)

So say Gertrude wants attention and she doesn’t receive the attention she feels she deserves. Instead of waiting her turn on the schedule at our place of business, she drags one of OUR waiting room chairs to the front reception window and plops down and crosses her arms, glaring at the receptionist until he looks at her. Causing a scene. Getting the attention in an obnoxious way–using vinegar instead of honey.

Now, this character needs to be cared for just as much as the next person, but it’s most tempting to pass over Gertrude-the-character and move on to someone who is sitting quietly in the corner waiting his turn. Very tempting. If someone from that waiting room happens to see this Gertrude character out on the street somewhere, do you think they’ll rush forward to greet her and embrace her with love? Sadly, they’ll cross the street to avoid her and she loses the attention she so desperately wants. Obnoxious characters tend to have that affect on people.

See the character on the picture? Data? He spreads himself all over the floor and gets in the way and whines and drools on me and sticks his cold nose on my arm or face in an attempt to get attention. But he’s a CAT! I love him because he’s a cat.

I really do believe that old adage–if you want something, use honey, not vinegar. I highly recommend the use of honey. Be a character all you want, but be a nice one. A sweet one. Lie on your back and twist sideways with a big grin, don’t grab a chair and plant yourself in someone else’s face and glare at everyone within glare distance. Create friendship, not hostility. Again, as I said last time, be nice.


Be Ye Kind

Rocky Waters

Rocky Waters

Once upon a time I had an English teacher who criticized the class for using the word “nice.” She felt we needed to be more creative, that the word was overused. Most of the class members could not have cared less, but being a lover of English I remember that specific word all these years later. I still disagree with her even though I understood her concern. My own concern, however, is that there simply isn’t enough nice in the world these days.

Here in the Midwest you will find courteous people everywhere, but there are just enough instances when someone is having a bad day that he/she can make the whole week worse for everyone.

Now that I’ve entered the world again and am no longer working at home, I’ve discovered, to my chagrin, that I don’t handle discourtesy well. It makes ME discourteous. I will hang up if a caller becomes verbally abusive, and have also told our employees to courteously disconnect to avoid abuse. If a store clerk–or worse, a store manager–is discourteous to me, I will not enter that store again. I realize some people simply don’t know how to behave in public, but I’m sorry, I might pray for that person, I will try hard to be courteous as long as possible, but someone who is hateful, mean, abusive, or simply takes his or her frustration out on others is like a creek bed filled with rocks. Those rocks affect the waters, and it makes for a very rough ride if you’re floating down that creek. In order to protect myself and employees from the rough waters, I disconnect.

The Bible says “Be ye kind one to another…” Boy, ain’t that the truth. When we aren’t, it makes life rough for everyone. Please think about your behavior toward the people in areas of service when you’re out shopping, eating, seeing the doctor, exercising. Another teacher of mine once taught our class members to smile at one another. A smile portrays kindness. Let your eyes fill with the warmth of a true smile when you encounter others and spread some niceness. Maybe that’s a trite word, but it makes a world of difference in the world.

I wish you a peaceful, nice-filled week. Try a smile or two and see if it doesn’t lift your spirits.

Are You Searching for Your Self?

If you live long enough, you’ve lost someone you love. Maybe it’s through a breakup, maybe it’s by death, but if you’ve lost a loved one you know the devastation, as if you’ve lost a part of yourself. For me, it’s almost physical.

Three years and two months ago my mother, whom we’d cared for in our home, passed away. Being an only child, I guess I was extremely close to Mom. I didn’t realize it so much when she was alive-you know, you just sort of take your mother for granted? But the connection was so solid that after Mom died, something in me died, and for three years I wasn’t myself. I couldn’t understand it. I knew Mom was in a better place, I believe in heaven and I knew what she believed, but that didn’t seem to matter.

I lost something so vital in my life that Mel, my loving, attentive husband, was very afraid for me. I was afraid for me. I wanted my SELF back. I hid out in the house for three years, only getting out to attend church and get groceries. Crowds put me into a panic.

During that time I helped Mel build a clinic, but I directed things from home, preferably via email.

Two months ago I was forced out of the house and into the workplace–our clinic–when we decided to move our clinic to a larger town and I was forced to be there to direct things in person. I did things I didn’t want to do, interacted with people in ways I didn’t want to, but I did it.

I forced myself out, bought dressy clothing, even wore earrings again. I began to interact with others besides my cats and my husband.

Something happened. Now I wake up in the morning and look forward to coming to the clinic, seeing the patients come through and be treated with kindness by my fantastic husband and nurses and office personnel. I love being with our WONDERFUL staff and see my husband 24 hours a day, even though I’m a true introvert.

I don’t know why it took three years to recover, but it did. I have friends who take longer than that. I’m back. If you’re in that dark period after loss, allow yourself to grieve as long as you need to, but if you see an opportunity to do something, take it. Try it, anyway. Even if you can’t function the first time you try, then you need to give yourself time and patience and try again later. It will happen if you let it.

I thought I’d lost my SELF forever, and then suddenly I was back. It’s me again. I pray that if you’re struggling, you’ll find a way back to your Self, and maybe even a better Self than you ever had before. May God give you healing and peace.
Much love,

Kristen’s Crazy Little Thing–by Hannah Alexander

Friends, I don’t want you to think I’m special or anything, but since Kristen Heitzmann and I have been friends for a very, very long time, and since I raised my hand higher than anyone else and shouted louder when she announced the new manuscript she wrote for fun, I get to be an endorser! Which means I finagled a first draft and started reading.

All I can say is: Write a note to yourself to be on the lookout for her announcement when she does release this book. She’s showing a new side to herself that is delightful (not that she isn’t already truly delightful or I wouldn’t like her so much) and if you want to read a book that will make you smile and laugh and chuckle you’ll want this book.

Yes, she has somehow changed genres without losing her style. Since I’ve attempted the same thing recently, I feel better knowing a fellow writer has done it, and done it very, very well. Don’t be afraid to step into the waters. Kristen is going strong!


Dear Hannah–by Hannah Alexander

Image023Friends, today I’m not including the letter I usually do, because this time I received a telephone for help. Let’s call this dear lady Viv. The call was to tell me her husband died last week and to ask for advice. I think all I did was confuse her even more than she’s already confused, so in retrospect I’m answering her the way I would have attempted to had I not been in shock.

For the wounded:

When I have grieved one death after another after another–either of a destroyed life or marriage or simply a broken heart–no book written about grief was capable of helping me. They didn’t address MY heart, MY pain, MY experience. Only one book, written by a beloved friend of mine, helped me, and it was written for those whose friends have suffered a loss. The title is How to Help a Grieving Friend by Stephanie Grace Whitson. Having read it several times I knew what not to do with Viv.

For instance, I knew that no spoken words would help. I knew that sharing my own experiences wouldn’t help. I was able to give her practical advice about taking care of herself and not expecting to even recall our conversation, because when one is in shock one doesn’t know what she’s doing most of the time. I gave her instructions about finances–things I knew she would probably forget, but I focused on caring for her and helping her move forward so she could care for herself. I pray I gave sound advice. But there is one thing I didn’t tell her, and it’s something I’ll tell her later, when anger or bitterness threaten to set in. I’ll tell her this because I’ve experienced it over and over again. I’m sure you have, too, in some way.

I’ve been reading and rereading the passages in Hebrews the 12th chapter directly following the verses about God chastening those He loves–his true children. I’ve buried myself in it to commit it to memory. In this world we suffer, sometimes to the point where we want to die. But beginning in the 12th verse of the HSCB version, we are told, “Therefore, strengthen your tired hands and weakened knees and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated but healed instead.”

A broken leg needs to be straightened and placed in a splint or cast so it will grow back together properly. The same thing happens when the emotions are involved.

There are times in our lives when we endure such suffering that we might be tempted to rebel against God and the pain He’s allowed us to endure. We can begin to see all of life as a punishment, and those around us tend to retreat after a time because our words are often filled with sad thoughts, depression, even bitterness. I’ve been there. Actually, I’m still focusing on the climb out of that particular pit.

When we’ve been injured by death or a broken relationship or cruel words, the loss of a job or any number of other attacks, this is the time it’s most vital for us to keep our paths straight–to not rebel against God. It’s time to draw closer, to bathe ourselves in His word–something we’re less likely to do when we’re angry with Him. It’s the only way to keep our paths straight when we’ve been injured. We’re already hindered by injury, and physically speaking, we need those straight paths so that we don’t wander off into the rocky places and make the injury more severe.

You might be limping today after an emotional injury, a physical injury, or life-changing illness. Now is the most important time to keep your eyes focused on God. Read and reread Hebrews 12 until you can see more clearly. Tell Him exactly how you feel, and never sever the connection between yourself and God. Those who never suffer have never belonged to Him. I realize that isn’t a great sales pitch to bring in new believers, but for those of us who belong, it’s the plain truth. My warning for my friend Viv is to stay close to Him especially now. We can cause more damage to ourselves and others when we’re wounded. Don’t forget to keep your paths straight and walk with the Great Physician. He can keep you firmly in His arms. If you don’t walk alongside Him at this time you can walk away and incur further injury. That will not only hurt you more, but it could hurt your friends and loved ones.

May God be with you if you’re suffering from a loss or an injury today. May you allow God to bring you peace and may you treat yourself kindly as you heal.

Much love from Hannah Alexander

DEAR HANNAH–Advice to the Lovelorn by Hannah Alexander

Sunset Nov 99 35 E Palmdale 02

Dear Hannah,

I’m a physician connected to the military. I can get called out for active duty at any time, and my employer knows about it. I made a huge mistake this year when I neglected to tell the lady I’ve been dating about my “other job.” When I did get called out for several months, she was furious with me. Now that I’m back at work she’s no longer interested in seeing me. I didn’t intentionally hide my military background from her, I simply choose not to talk about it when I’m working my civilian job. I try not to even think about it. But she told me last night that she promised herself years ago never to fall in love with a man with a dangerous job. I don’t want to lose her, but I did tell her I thought she was being shortsighted, which led to a fight. Safer isn’t always better, right? How do I keep from losing her?


Dear Ian,

I don’t think insulting her is the way to go about healing the breach between you. Has she given you any other concrete reason for her fears? I believe most women are drawn to heroes, but obviously she has a problem with your heroism. I’d want to find out why. Have you discussed this with her in depth without belittling her fear? A woman needs to be treasured and understood. Fighting her like this  will only drive her away. It seems to me that both of you have been holding back. That’s no way to build a lasting relationship. I suggest you both pull down a few walls and learn to communicate better, or you’ll both have trouble with relationships down the road.



Hallowed Halls 2000

I’m skipping the advice for the lovelorn for the remainder of the year–since this is my final post for the year. Today I’d like to give you a gift that will take very little effort to receive. It’s a book, of course. I happen to have several dozen giveaway copies of Hallowed Halls, the first novel in my Hallowed Halls Series. I’d love to share them with you if you enjoy reading Christian romance set in a small town with a medical theme. Let me describe this novel in more detail:

When Dr. Joy Gilbert is fired from a lucrative position in the city, she returns to her hometown along the Missouri River to find her former fiance, Zack, still single; her once vivacious mother, Molly, struggling financially and physically; and Tressa, the 15-year-old daughter of the boss who just fired Joy, popping out the back door of Joy’s SUV.

Tressa refuses to return to the city, where her divorced parents continue to battle in the aftermath of her brother’s unexplained death. Though the girl’s rebellion threatens Joy’s career, that threat means nothing when it appears Tressa’s life, as well, could be in danger.

Will Joy and Zack be able to work together again in time to safe Tressa’s life?

After more than thirty novels with traditional publishing, this is my first offering from Hannah Alexander Books, and it’s been a story on my heart for several years.

All you need to do to receive this book in the mail is contact me at askhannah@hannahalexander.com and mention this blog and give me your mailing address. I promise you will receive nothing more unless you sign up to receive notice whenever I have a new novel released. I will never share your address with others. If you enjoy the novel, I would love it, of course, if you wish to write a quick review, but I know how busy life gets sometimes, and word of mouth is just great. Tell your friends about a book you read, or share the book with others. I’ll be sending these free copies as long as I have any left, so give yourself a gift for Christmas. You may also read more about other books the Hannah Alexander husband-wife writing team has written at http://www.HannahAlexander.com

Merry Christmas, and may the next year bring you closer to Christ than ever before.

With Love,

Hannah Alexander

Dear Hannah–Help Us Spend Our Money!

Dear Hannah,

I recently became engaged to a very wealthy man who is a new Christian. After years of struggling to understand God better and fighting God because of trials in his life, my man knows a lot about the Bible, especially the part about the rich young ruler giving away all his wealth and following Christ. I didn’t fall in love with my man’s money, but I also don’t know if giving all his money way is the best thing for him to do. He has many employees who depend on him for their livelihoods, and if he gives it all away, who’s to say he won’t be giving it to the wrong people? I love the thought of spending a lifetime helping others in real need, but how does one know these days what’s real and what isn’t?


Wealthy and Confused


Dear Wealthy,

What wonderful news to hear of your fiance’s new life in Christ! And how intriguing to be asked such a question. First of all, I believe Christ’s answer to the rich young ruler was to show not only those listening, but everyone through the ages how devastating the love of money is in our lives. For your fiance to show his willingness to give away his wealth in obedience to the Bible is a great sign that he’s sold out to Christ. If he earned that wealth himself, he understands how to manage money. What he does with that money is not only between him and God now, but it also involves you, so sit down with him and talk this out, and take your time.

I’ve often thought that if I acquired a huge sum of money I would reinvest in a long-term plan of making that money grow so I could give more away as I receive it. I agree with you that giving money to the wrong people could be more harmful than keeping it. For instance, you hand out money to those who don’t know how to manage it and they spend it on something shiny and new instead of paying off their debts. I love the idea of finding a good, solid organization or two that I know handle their finances wisely to help widows and orphans. That is from the Bible. I also believe in investing in missions where people are truly being reached for Christ. If I had a lot of wealth, I would have to place myself on a budget and resist spending indiscriminately. However, your fiance has employees who depend on him. Giving away his wealth would be giving away their livelihood. If he wishes to give it all, he can keep on giving as he receives dividends, paychecks, interest. He can sell extraneous accompaniments to a luxurious lifestyle and live simply, drive a simple car, live like one of us, and manage the funds of his estate in a way that will support those in direst need around the world. I think the act of giving throughout one’s life can grow a person’s character more completely than one single act of giving away everything, but then Christ did tell that rich young ruler to give all away to the poor and follow Him.

I’d love to have our readers consider this. How would you give away a million dollars to help the neediest? What would you do with your wealth? Remember, despite the tanked economy, we’re all still considered wealthy in comparison to the rest of the world. How would you give?


Hannah Alexander


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Dear Hannah–Holiday Madness! by Hannah Alexander

Dear Hannah,

Help me before I kill the joy of the holiday season for everyone and lose my marriage! I’m an only child, and my parents always expect my husband and me to travel to their house for Thanksgiving and Christmas. They would have no one to celebrate with if we didn’t go. They live two hours away, so by the time we drive there, spend time and come home, our day is shot for anything else.

My husband’s family is big and loud and they believe they’re the only place in town during the holidays. They expect us to be there or we get the silent treatment for the rest of the year. I don’t mind dropping by after we return from my parents’ house, but they expect us there all day. My husband and I fight about this every year, and this year I told him if he wants to be with his family, then fine. He can go to his family celebration and I’ll go to mine, and we’ll see each other later. He’s furious with me. What am I supposed to do?


Dear Linn,

Find the passage in the Bible that reminds married couples to leave family and cleave to one another. Read it to your husband, and pray with him. I’ve been in your situation, and it’s never happy. I’ve even attempted, for many years, to host Christmas festivities at our house, but that was more work than fun for both of us. We eventually decided to slow things down a lot. We would see family members during the holiday season, but not specifically on Thanksgiving or Christmas. They learned to accept our decision after some grumbling. I know I’m oversimplifying, but your first devotion is to Christ, your second to your spouse and immediate family. When you have children will you want them to experience the stress of the holidays, or the joy of it? Make it joyful. You might spend Thanksgiving with your parents and Christmas with his, but the two of you are a family now. Protect that above all else.

Best wishes, and have a great Thanksgiving!




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Advice to the Lovelorn by Hannah Alexander

Cheryls dandelion front cover

Dear Hannah,

I am a single psychiatrist who counsels wounded people, and I’ve done something I felt was necessary for the good of a broken family. I started some casual, out-of-office meetings with the difficult ex-husband of one of my patients in order to calm their hostilities for the sake of their daughter. I was sure it needed to be done, and since I saw good results, I believe it was the right thing to do. But that man has changed over the months I’ve been meeting with him for dinner. Now I, a Christian, have found myself falling in love with a man who is not a believer.

I know people go through this every day. Many times they marry despite their spiritual differences, and I have witnessed the fallout. I can’t marry this man, but I can’t bear the thought of never seeing him again. Maybe it’s just my imagination, but he seems to be walking closer to Christ in some ways than many Christians I know. What if God has drawn me to meet with him just for such a time?



Dear Myra,

You don’t need me to tell you that, first, your sessions should have always taken place at your place of business, and second, you should have maintained a patient-physician relationship. Meeting under more casual circumstances can break down the professionalism that might have protected you emotionally. This is also why I recommend against a Christian and a nonChristian dating. I’m sure the Christian always feels she can lead that nonChristian to Christ. I can tell you from an experience much earlier in my life that this doesn’t often happen. When a Christian marries a nonChristian, there is no joined spirit, because a true Christian is filled by the Holy Spirit and Christ is her first love. A nonChristian husband (or vice versa) can’t understand this dedication to an unseen Spirit, and eventually the spirit in the unbeliever begins to resent, and even hate, the Spirit in the believer. Others might have different experiences, but that was mine, and I cannot state strongly enough that this mixing of lives can cause great pain and isolation.

I know it will be difficult for you, but until and unless your friend truly discovers Christ and accepts Him as Lord of his life, he should begin seeing another therapist, and you should never be in close proximity to him without friends nearby to help you remain accountable.

May this man be drawn to the reality of Christ in the near future, and until and unless that happens, may you maintain the strength you need to abide in Christ.




Dear Hannah, Praying for Patience!

Advice to the Lovelorn Man

Waiting on God

Here’s another letter to me from a character in one of our books, but this time you won’t have to work too hard to suspend disbelief. It’s based on something that is taking place in our lives right now, so it’s near to the heart.

Dear Hannah,

I’m in limbo, and I don’t know how much longer I can live this way. I was so sure my dream was being destroyed last year when my fiance broke our engagement. I was offered a job in the city. The job ended several months ago.

When I came home and managed to reconnect with my former fiance, we realized we’d never stopped loving each other. My dream has always been to open a family practice here in my hometown, but now old enemies from the past have decided to attack me no matter where I go. I thought this dream was a calling from God, but maybe it isn’t. I just don’t know. How can you know when God’s calling you to something?



Dear Joy,

I’m sure you know all the typical answers to this question. Remain connected to God by reading your Bible often–that means daily–and pray daily, more than once a day, pray about everything. Remain in contact with other believers, and open your life to God in every situation so you’ll be used by Him.

Many times God’s answer is simply “Wait.” That means you keep doing what you’re doing, putting one step ahead of the other and keep moving forward unless you run into a roadblock. Sometimes the wait can last for years, even decades. Never lose sight of your dream, but pray about it. Be willing to take a detour if a roadblock appears and that’s what you have to do. If God is calling you to a particular thing, you’ll do it in His time, not yours. God has told me to wait many times in my life, and instead, I rushed ahead. I was always sorry later. Don’t do what I did.

I wish you well on your journey. I have a feeling your dreams and God’s calling on your life will intersect, but you need to wait.

With love,





Dear Hannah: Trouble in Paradise by Hannah Alexander

First, I have an announcement to make to those of you who have been missing James Rubart’s posts. You might recall he showed us a picture of his house after a huge tree fell on it several months ago. I happened to run into him at a conference recently, and he said he had a week or two more to get everything repaired. What a nightmare! So say a prayer for Jim as you think of him. It’s no fun to have your house destroyed.

2013-09-14 14.55.34

Now it’s time to suspend your disbelief with our advice to the lovelorn.

Dear Hannah,

I’m pretty devastated right now. After all Zack, my fiance, and I have been through this past year, we finally came to terms with our break-up, and we made up. It’s been wonderful until now.

Never take a job working for someone you love, because that can make all kinds of trouble for the relationship. Today he said he would have to fire me! And you know why? Because of a crabby woman on the hospital board who hates my mother and wants to take it out on me. Oh, sure, Zack says I need to speed up because I am, after all, a physician in an emergency department, and when we get busy I have to move faster and faster, but if he would look at the patient charts, he’ll see I’ve caught a lot of illnesses that would have been missed had I not been so thorough. I didn’t train to be an emergency physician, I simply took the job out of desperation. I never wanted to work for him in the first place, but he’s the ER director, and I needed the job.

I became so angry I told him I quit. Let him find someone else. Or let the bitter, controlling president of the hospital board beat the bushes for a doc who’ll want to work here. They can certainly use fourth year med students in the school attached to the hospital. I have to fulfill my duties for the next few weeks, but it’s going to be difficult dealing with Zack, knowing he was more willing to side with a bitter woman whose only reason for getting rid of me was to hurt my mother’s name in our small hometown. I’m trying to decide if I want to be married to a man who would turn against me like this. How would I be able to trust him after marriage?

Please give me some advice, Hannah.



Dear Joy,

Ouch! I can only imagine the pain you’re feeling right now, especially after dealing with the fallout of one breakup  with Zack already. Have I mentioned how vital it is to seek premarital counseling? This is especially important when you’ve had misunderstandings in the past. If I were you, I’d go back over the conversation and write down everything that was said during your conversation with Zack. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, it’s easy to misunderstand, or respond with anger until the pattern escalates into one huge mess.

Talk to him alone, when neither of you will be interrupted. Turn off your cell phones and talk. Keep your voice quiet. Take slow, deep breaths to remain calm as you discuss the situation, and tell him how you feel. Don’t hurl accusations at him, just speak gently to him, no matter how difficult that might be. If the two of you can talk this out, and then if you can bring in someone you trust to counsel with both of you, it’s possible this problem can be smoothed over. But if he doesn’t have a good explanation for the way he treated you, it might be time to put off the wedding plans until you can both be at peace about this situation. And I don’t think you should ever work for him again.

Best wishes,



Dear Hannah by Hannah Alexander

Hannah Alexander logo

Are you ready for some more fictive advice for the lovelorn? Push aside your disbelief and read along. These may not be real, living breathing people, but you can pretty much count on someone in the world enduring what they’re enduring, and since I’m writing their stories, I can help them better than anyone. You can find these characters in a story set during Christmas in a book called Dandelion Moon.

Dear Hannah,

My fiance just fired me! Well, okay, he didn’t exactly fire me, I happened to overhear him explaining to a nasty woman on the hospital board why he hasn’t fired me yet. So he was planning to. I beat him to the punch out of self-preservation. We’ve had our differences. I mean, major differences, ones that broke up our engagement last year. I don’t want that to happen again. If it did, I think I’d give up on romance entirely. What’s the use? All that happens when it comes to romance for me is that I get hurt, or someone else does. Why bother?

Dr. Joy Gilbert

Dear Joy,

So you were eavesdropping and overheard something you shouldn’t have, then perhaps jumped to a conclusion? How can you know for sure? You didn’t give him a chance to explain? If you’re engaged to this man, do you think you might be able to guess what he’d have done if you hadn’t confronted him about it? Do you often feel the need to be in such control of your life that you force the issue to keep someone else from hurting you before you can defend yourself? I get the impression you don’t completely trust this fiance of yours after one breakup. Maybe the two of you need to spend a little more time together and get to know one another more. Time spent doing that might sound frustrating, but until a couple knows each other’s foibles and each can trust the other and still love them during the rough patches, time seems to be the best antidote for the questions running through your mind right now.

Why don’t you see if someone else might be behind this awful exchange? Is there someone who wants to hurt  you? Don’t automatically blame the fiance. Even in small towns like Juliet, there are mean people. Don’t let them win. Trust in love, and wait until it’s right. You’ll know.

I wish you the best,

Hannah Alexander

THAT’S MEDICAL DIALOGUE? by Hannah Alexander

Hannah and Alexander

Hannah and Alexander


I’m taking a detour from my Dear Hannah posts to share some light dialogue that often takes place in our house when I’m working on a medical scene. As you know, Mel and I work together on our Hannah Alexander novels, hence the pen name. I’m the writer, he’s the medical expert, but as you can see, sometimes he’s a bit too much of an expert, and I have to get him to dumb it down for me a little.

“Honey, I need you to give me a little information about pain,” I said one day. I was hoping for some helpful information about how to treat chronic pain. I should have made myself clear.

“Pain is usually a reflex arc,” he said. “Every part of a pain response is in two parts.”

“Two parts? I feel just that one part. The pain itself, and go slowly because I’m typing this down.”

“The two parts are afferent and efferent. Afferent is affect, and efferent is effect–”

“Wait, slow down. What was it you just said?”

“The classic is you put your hand on a hot stove and you don’t know it’s hot. Pain is the afferent, or the affect. As a result of the brain feeling pain, it triggers you to pull your hand back, therefore it’s efferent–or the effect. It’s what the muscles do in response to the pain. So a reflex arc doesn’t require a higher brain function.”

“I want something that will affect the effect, then. Something to tame the pain. Simply, please.”

“If you take away the cause, you take away the pain.”

“Yes, well, that’s the problem, isn’t it? People in pain don’t always know what’s causing it, or why it continues year after year. I have friends who have three different doctors telling them three different reasons for their pain.”

“Then while they’re trying ot figure it out, they need pain blockers, which could be simple aspirin or other over-the-counter pain reliever.”

“What if those don’t work?”

“If you’re talking about narcotics, those aren’t drugs most doctors hand out like candy. Ultram is a newer pain med that works pretty well and doesn’t have as much of an abuse potential, so the docs are more likely to write a script for it. However, if someone already take narcotics for pain–”

“Isn’t there something else. Maybe topical?”

“There’s always the pain patch prescription, but that’s narcotic, too, and we’ve actually had patients take those patches and try to lick all of the medication from them and come in with an overdose. More than one died.”

“That’s tragic, but you’re talking about people you see in the ER who abuse the drugs you give them. I’m talking about all the suffering people who can’t get a doctor to listen to them because the minute they mention chronic pain, the doctor and staff automatically cry ‘drug abuser!’ and they get no help. What can they do?”

“If they can’t adequately block the pain, then they distract, such as with a TENS unit. It comes from the term trans cutaneous electrical nerve stimulation.”

“Hold it, how do you spell cuta–”

“It substitutes one pain for another, but the electrical stimulation distracts from the old pain, and if the original pain is bad enough, the electrical shock can be a huge relief, but it doesn’t typically last long after it’s taken off. Still, if utilized every day–”

“What’s longer lasting?”

“Exercise can sometimes help. Everyone should exercise every day, anyway, but particularly those in pain. Stretches and physical therapy, massage, all those have their place when treating pain.”

“It’s hard to exercise when it hurts to walk.”

“Well, then, any kind of stretching, movement of any kind, can help. A patient can’t just give up and lie in bed or it’ll get worse. For chronic pain, if it’s localized, depending on how much burning a patient can stand, there are non-narcotic patches and creams, even a roll-on liquid that has a pepper agent in it that burns the skin and sinks in deeply. The burn tends to go away if you can stand it long enough.”

“All right! Now we’re on a roll. Are you talking about capsaicin?”

“It comes in all heats, and the hotter the better as long as it doesn’t blister. It isn’t just a distraction. Some studies say it might actually release endorphins that will help with a healing process. It might not last forever, but–”

“How does a true pain patient convince a doctor that she’s in authentic pain and needs real help with it when there are so many who fake pain to get–”

“A classic example for fixing pain is to liken it to a broken bone that’s out of place. When you reset it, lining the bone up is probably as good at pain control as blasting the patient with pain medi–”

“No, honey.” I knew my time was short. He was experiencing a high of his own. His high is medicine. “Please go back to the chronic pain treat–”

“It’s the same with dislocations. It hurts when something is dislocated, and it hurts getting it back into place, but the body wants you to know about the problem with a lot of pain. You fix it, you’re better. Like a thorn in the foot. You don’t take pain meds for the thorn in the foot, you remove the thorn.”

“Okay, got it. Thanks.” Sigh. I’d gotten as much from him as I was going to. He was on a roll, and sometimes I lose him to the subject matter when he’s in his zone.

“Oh. Okay, sweetheart. Is that all you needed?” He looked disappointed. He could have continued for hours. He loves to teach medicine.

“Yeah, once I get it sorted out.”

So, if you have chronic pain, did you get all that? I’ve found that since I have a family doc I’ve gone to for years, he knows I’m not a drug seeker, but I’m one of the lucky few. He’ll work with me. If you’ve found any other great methods to help with chronic pain, please have a heart for the rest of us and share?


Dear Hannah by Hannah Alexander

Join us this week and suspend disbelief as we work on a letter from a character in a book I’m writing now. If anyone has a good answer or better insight–or any insight for me at all–join in!

Dear Hannah,

As a guy, I don’t do this kind if thing–ask for advice. As a physician, I go to colleagues for referrals all the time, and I love to get a second opinion on a particularly difficult case, but when it comes to my private life, I keep that private. But now I’m not sure what to do. Maybe you can help me.

Last year, I allowed a wealthy, powerful man to persuade me that my fiance, Joy, was not being true to me. In fact, he had me convinced she was having an affair with him, and that she needed to spread her wings and fly in the big city with a well-paying job–working for him, of course. And you know what? I gave in. He set me up with sly suggestions, and he pointed at her car, which never left the parking lot for two days, which he said was because she was staying with him. I was working myself to death at the time, and I can only claim sleep deprivation. I broke my engagement to the most wonderful woman in the world. I’ve never been more miserable.

But when I finally came to my senses and went to talk to her, she’d already taken the job and left town.

Fast forward a year. My beloved Joy is back in my life. The jerk fired her because she didn’t love him, wouldn’t have an affair with him, and was taking on too many pro bono cases–not getting paid. I discovered her car was in that parking lot because it had broken down and she had no time to get it fixed. She didn’t want to tell me because she knew I was working too many hours already. We worked things out and are back together again.

My problem is this: The scoundrel is back in town. He has apologized, and he seems to have changed, but I don’t know what to think. He wants to talk to me about yet another woman he thinks he loves–and she’s Joy’s best friend!

What do I tell this man of means, who uses his money to buy businesses and people and have others do his bidding? How do I remain calm in his presence? He wants to come to me, now, with his questions about love and women? I’m a Christian. He is not. All I know to tell him is seek Christ. Is that all I need to say?

Zachary Travis

Dear Zachary,

Wow, you’ve been run over by a steamroller! I’m impressed that you’re seeking advice for this, because most men I know would simply punch this man out and tell him to get lost. But you have a conscience, and perhaps you see a hurting man here. I don’t know, it’s just a guess. I hope it isn’t because you fear his money and power.

First of all, make sure you let Joy know you trust her. After all that happened, she must be feeling a little raw, maybe a little uneasy. She might think you’ll fall for this man’s lies again. Just reassure her.

Second, talk to this man. Be bold. Straight talk is sometimes necessary to get through to a person. Tell him that if he’s changed, you need to see the fruit of that change. And if you are a Christian, you know what he needs.

As for the woman he thinks he loves? She must know what he’s like, but if she doesn’t, she should be told. Let Joy handle that. You handle the troubled man. Even stand beside him and show him the love of Christ in a way he might never have seen before. People who hurt others are often hurting, themselves, and though you must protect yourself from them, you will also want to put an end to the darkness forever. God loves him. Show him that, and be bold. Be brave. Be the man you were meant to be.




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