Several years ago, I found myself researching broken bones in the human hand and wrist for a story I was writing. Back in 2004, a friend of mine married an orthopedic surgeon. When I found myself talking to him at the annual Saint Patrick's Day party, I spent a while learning about specific types of breaks from a clinical perspective. To keep my fictional story moving, I needed things to happen to my character. When I write, I apply circumstances to characters as they come to me, because I feel as if this person must have gone through what I'm describing. I've tried explaining this to others, they often don't understand what I'm saying so I accept that my explanation fails, and move on from there.

During my research, I learned a lot about the different bones that comprise the hand and wrist. I also found many articles on what different types of breaks there are and some of the theories behind different approaches the medical community may try with a person who has broken one of these bones. One source stated that males between the ages of 25 - 34 broke these bones most frequently. I found that the action I had my character undergoing would be enough to break the bone in question, and because I like to keep things real, I had the guy fall backwards and use his hand to try and break the fall when a woman in front of him stumbled.

Sometimes, bones will heal on their own. Casting is a common method used to immobilize bones. A second cast may be needed if the first one is not effective, after that, surgery is usually the recommended course of action if casting alone was not enough to re-unite the broken pieces. A person may acquire a bone infection such as osteomyelitis after a surgical procedure, it may also come from a deep puncture wound, or an untreated strep infection. The people in my story had reached a crisis point, they needed something that would make or break their partnership, and I thought that a potentially life threatening condition would be a possible trigger for them to realize that they wanted to be together despite their doubts. While I was reading about osteomyelitis, I thought to myself; this is a horrible condition, maybe I shouldn't have my character dealing with this on top of everything else. It troubled me for a while, enough that I stopped the piece I had been working on and shelved it.

When I first started writing about my main character, he needed challenges. My fictional person had a twin brother, in real life, a girlfriend of mine has twins that were born prematurely. I've seen what those boys, who weighed less than six pounds at birth, have gone through. I wanted to highlight parts of their lives, and I was able to take some of their struggles and grow the people I wanted to write about. My friend went through several years where she knew something was wrong with her youngest son, but medical experts could not pin down what exactly was causing his abdominal distress.

After tweaking his diet, visiting specialists, giving up for some time, and reading many books, articles, and consulting online resources, my friend has been able to reduce his symptoms, although she still isn't sure why his stomach bothers him so much. I had never heard of celiac disease before I decided to randomly assign it to one of my characters. I wanted one brother to live the food allergy lifestyle because it seemed like something he would have had to go through and it would explain certain characteristics and personality traits of his. I wanted his brother to have something, but giving two kids the same allergy didn't sit well with the creative side of my brain. So I started researching, eventually arriving at an article on autoimmune conditions. I remember reading a lengthy list of foods the celiac brother could not eat and telling myself how much it would suck to not ever be able to eat muffins or pancakes or even a slice of toast. Food issues alienate you from other people. You want the food that's being served, and it takes an incredible amount of will power to refuse the tiniest bite. You also have to deal with others who make light of your condition, as well as those who doubt it exists.

When my oldest daughter complained that her legs were hurting her, I knew that something must be wrong, but I lacked the ability to identify the cause of her pain. Many people gave me their home grown opinions, my husband did not want me to take her in initially, but the leg pain had been going on for about two weeks, and over the weekend I noticed that she had been limping which was one of the concerns listed under: seek medical attention if, for an article on growing pains.

The primary reason I wanted to write this was to explore how fictional characters can be drawn from real life, and how what those characters go through, and how they take on a life of their own as you discover more about them, ties into your real life. I can't say that I knew that my daughter would be diagnosed with osteomyelitis when I first started reading about wrist fractures, surgeries, and post surgical complications. I don't believe that making a character gluten intolerant brought about my own diagnosis, but when I have to answer the question: why do I write? I find myself coming back to things that have changed my life profoundly, and a part of me is curious as to why I had researched these things beforehand.

These are a couple of examples, I could give you more, but these will suffice as illustrations of the phenomenon I'm discussing. It has been said that you can't write about what you don't know. Research is a tool that people can use to gather information, and educate yourself about the clinical aspects of a disease or trauma related incident. I can imagine the pain of a broken wrist bone, even if I had not broken a bone myself. It is harder to imagine suffering from a chronic complaint if you have no experience doing so.

I feel as if there must be some reason that I research these things, or write about something a character experiences, and then go through that myself. I'm not sure what it means, or how I'm benefiting from this, if I am at all. It's just something I've been thinking about for a long time. Why does this happen to me? Is it really happening to me, or in a world that may operate at random, am I connecting research with what turned out to be an event when I shouldn't? Does this happen to other people? Am I possibly, subconsciously aware of things that lead me to seek answers, but missing the real life application while I'm writing fiction? Or is it, as the title implies, that truth and fiction are both strange?

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