What Ails My Valentine?

            A blog commenter recently asked me what, exactly, was wrong with Lord Valentine Windham’s hand that it became so inflamed? Was his whole problem psychosomatic?

            Physician David Worthington, Viscount Fairly, intimates as much, and Valentine supports that diagnosis when he notes (to himself) that the first twinge of pain came when he closed his hand around the symbolic clod of earth that began the process of burying his brother Victor.

            In fact, Valentine has buried two brothers, and hasn’t really let go of the keen grief resulting from either death. He’s lost two more brothers to the inexorable grip of happy marriages, and his oldest brother, Devlin, has also removed two hundred miles north to the West Riding.

            Valentine has been holding onto to a lot of bewildering losses—no wonder his hand aches.

            Except… This is one of my early manuscripts, and as such, has been significantly pared down from its original first draft… pared down by, oh, say 50,000 words. That means there’s half a book I’ve written about this story that you haven’t read, and buried in that half a book is more information about Val’s ailment.

            As a child, trying to keep up with his older brothers while skating, Val had a fall on an outstretched hand (FOOSH). He hid the condition from Her Grace, and by the time His Grace figured out that his baby boy was injured, the affected wrist was healing. His Grace pronounced it a bad sprain (it was a fracture), and tried to tell himself that stoicism even in a five year old is something to be proud of. (Her Grace would have known better.)

            In modern medical terms a FOOSH is one condition that can create a predisposition to carpal tunnel syndrome. Val’s symptoms—worse inflammation around the thumb and index fingers than the other fingers, abatement of inflammation following rest—are consistent with a diagnosis of carpal tunnel. Repetitive stress can play a role in carpal tunnel, but so too, the literature suggests, can chronic emotional stress.

            So maybe Valentine had a case of carpal tunnel that resolved with rest.

            Or maybe it was a matter of him having to let go of what ailed his heart before his hand would heal. I’ve been around a lot of dedicated pianists, and as a group, I’ve noticed they tend not to suffer ailments of the hand—to the contrary, many of them ply their instruments with breathtaking skill very late in life (Eubie Blake, Marion McPartland, Arturo Rubinstein, Dave Brubeck to name a few).

            To answer the question then, I know Valentine’s ailment was at least physical, but David Worthington was right too: Illness can have its origins in the emotions of the heart, and healing can originate there too.

 Have you ever endured an ailment you suspected was more of the heart than the body?


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15 comments on “What Ails My Valentine?

  1. I loved reading this. It was the one question I had after reading the story! Any plans to release the un published part of your manuscript as a novella?

  2. Brittany, all those scenes I cut (and cut and cut) were just so much more footage of the same story: A very long discussion between Val and David about how Val’s filling up his time now that his brothers are all married; Val and Dare walking back to Nick’s townhouse after the card game and getting set upon by muggers (though Val defends himself quite well without even making a fist). Scenes between Nick and Dare, Axel and Abby, Axel and St. Just…

    The rule of thumb is that each scene MUST advance either plot or character development, and preferably both. This goes quadruple for intimate scenes. All that stuff that got cut… it just wasn’t compellingly necessary. I will be posting some deleted scenes and bonus material on the website for EVERY book.

  3. Yes, Miz Grace, I have. Sometimes it’s easier to have a physical problem that can be explained rather than one so deep within the heart that it can’t even be discussed with a closest friend.

  4. Carolyn, and then you write a book, and some character can deal with it in the privacy of 400 printed pages. As I was writing my response above, it occurred to me: When I drafted “The Virtuoso” my kid was living 3000 miles away and struggling mightily. We all have things to let go of, and its always hard.

    And yet… a few years later, she’s on the way to an HEA I could not have seen coming. Hang in there, keep writing.

  5. Just thought that sometimes it is the simple paragraph thought to be extraneous that might mean a great deal to the reader that looks for meaning in even the smallest of words ….I love that you will post some “outtakes” as it were for us voracious readers….

    Just saying…

    PS many illnesses are exacerbated by emotions….Valentine is a sensitive soul…it seems as if when the damn finally broke, so did he…a bit….

  6. Good analogy, Hope. For years I had migraines on top of migraines… Haven’t had a really bad migraine since I started writing… makes me think some of that pain was about my head bursting with ideas and the need for creative self-expression.

  7. Hi Grace,

    i think, one of my friend will love this book, she’s always like a hero who’s not perfect or have a physical disabilities.

  8. ofcourse Grace, i love to share to her and i can imagine how she will adore this book 😉

    just wait my news once i share Grace =D

  9. Douglas and Gwen’s story, be still my heart, as that tale would include Winnie’s friend Rose and her history. Since I fall more and more in love with their Graces book by book; can we hope for something about Percival and Esther eventually? It would be so interesting to see their story told from not only their perspective but with observations from their children.

    Certainly Devlin’s POV would be much different from Gayle’s or Valentine’s and Maggie’s from Sophie’s. Family dynamics are so fascinating. I raised two step-daughters who have given me seven grandchildren. The road was often rocky, especially in the early years, but worth it in so many lovely ways. Fate allowed me to play it forward as I am a step-daughter myself with the most amazing Mom the world has ever seen and a half brother who is my best friend! Guess you can see why I relate so to your characters.

  10. I’m working right NOW on a novella for Their Graces, though it deals with their courtship only. The family saga would be an enormous undertaking, though we might get it in snippets before the extended series is done.

    With respect to your step-situation, blended family issues are the reason cited for the break ups of most second marriages (which crash more frequently than first marriages), so your family is to be commended for beating the odds, generation by generation.