Two years ago, my son wouldn’t stop fevering and had an itchy rash all over his body. I went to the doctor and in just a few minutes, they diagnosed him with scarlet fever, even though his strep test was negative. I took him home and started the antibiotic regimen, but two days later, his fever persisted. My husband wanted me to wait it out, let the antibiotics go to work, but I insisted something was wrong.
So, we took him back to the clinic and saw a different PA, who thought my son had Kawasaki’s Disease. I had heard a little about the disease before and knew John Travolta’s son had it as a child. It scared me to death because I knew if it wasn’t Kawasaki’s it was something bad. We did some blood work and by the next day, we were on our way to the children’s hospital with one of the strongest cases of Kawasaki's our doctor had seen.
Kawasaki’s is rare and so much is unknown about it. In order for it to be considered Kawasaki’s a child has to have a high fever for five days, spots on the tongue, persistent rash over the body, red eyes, peeling of hands and feet, cracked lips, swollen lymph nodes, etc. In my son’s case, he needed to have five of the previous symptoms in order to receive treatment. The docs also rule out other “like” illnesses, but for the most part, it is a guessing game.
The tricky part of this disease is catching in time. It’s estimated that if treatment isn’t received within fourteen days heart damage is almost certain. I was lucky. Through persistence and a PA who paid attention to detail, my son received treatment and is healthy. So many times, however, we don’t trust our instincts or let others talk us out of what we know or believe.
Although the health and well-being of our children is far different thing from writing instincts, I wanted to use this example to show persistence and intuition mean a lot. I can’t tell you how many times doctors have told me to wait and see what happens with a certain illness. “Call me in seven to ten days.” Well, if I would’ve waited that long, my son’s life would be dramatically different.
In writing, we use beta readers to test our story's worth. Sometimes we get great feedback--good or bad--and sometimes we don't. We can't please everyone, nor will everyone like what we do. I haven't been in one book club that every reader has a consensus. We all pull so many different things from any situation, and it's up to us to decide what we cut, add, or embellish. I think it was Stephen King who said the tie goes to the writer.
Do you trust your gut when it comes to writing? Do you try to please your beta readers to the point of losing “you” in your work?