Monday, September 23, 2013


What a long, weird week I've had, man. If we're friends on Facebook, you probably already know what's been going on, but if you haven't, well...

I went in to work last Wednesday (I work as security in the ER of a major hospital) with my left arm getting sore and uncomfortable. I didn't think much about it, really. But over the course of the evening, the arm started to swell until it was like, twice its normal size. I snagged a passing nurse, who looked at it and said, "Dude, that could be a blood clot. Get it checked out." I said, "Okay, I'll do that tomorrow morning." She said, "Uh, no. Like, now." So I checked in, they did an ultra-sound on my arm, and sure enough... blood clot. A BIG one. It ran from the crook of my elbow to behind the clavicle in my shoulder. I didn't even know blood clots could be that big.

Anyway, got checked in and all that, they hooked me up to a blood thinner to prevent further clotting, and starting almost immediately they began drawing blood from my right hand every four hours. The blood thinner made me bruise easily and by the end of my stay the hand was black and blue with puncture marks. That was actually the most uncomfortable part.

They did a CT of my chest, trying to determine what caused the clotting. I asked, "What are you looking for, exactly?" and the nurse, somewhat reluctantly, said, "Well... we just want to make sure there's nothing cancerous."

And I don't care who you are, when someone mentions the C word in connection with your own body, there's a little part of you that freaks a bit. I nodded, smiled, said, "Okay." But sleeping well that night would've been impossible, even if they HADN'T been waking me up every two hours for blood drawing and taking vitals.

Late the next morning, the nurse swings by my room, says, "CT is clear," and hurries out. Okay, so no cancer. All good. But they still didn't know what caused the clot. Testing on my blood continued.

Surgery was scheduled for Friday afternoon but because of unavoidable circumstances was delayed until that evening. I was annoyed and maybe snapped a little at the staff because I hadn't eaten anything and was cranky. But I got over it. They did the surgery that night, stuck a tube all the way up my arm and started pumping clot-busting stuff in there. The next morning, they checked it, saw it was working fine, and pulled the tube out. They also figured out what caused the clotting-- my clavicle was pressing up against a major artery.

So-- no cancer, no blood disease, just a weird fluke of anatomy. I suppose I'll have to have surgery in another couple of months to fix that.

After the surgery, I had a free hand to wander around the hospital whenever I felt restless. At one point, I wandered downstairs and outside to get some air and sneak a cigarette. I was standing there feeling a little sorry for myself when this older guy came up and lit a smoke and we started talking. He was there for his son, he said, who was up in the cancer ward. The son was 21 years old, learning disabled, and they'd just learned that he had intestinal cancer.  They were putting him on chemo, but the prognosis wasn't good. He would probably die, and soon.

The father kept it together, smoking his cigarette, looking old and tired. He'd lost his wife a few years earlier, and his son was all he had. Because of his disability, the son didn't really understand what was happening to him. We talked for a few more minutes and I wished him well. We shook hands, and he went back upstairs to be with his boy.

When he was gone, something weird happened to me, and I hesitate to mention it, but here it is: I turned away so no one could see me and I started crying. I'm crying a little now thinking about it. I pulled myself together before the crying could become sobbing, wiped my eyes, and went back inside. I was fine. I had a blood clot that, while life-threatening, was fixable and I was going to be okay. But this man was about to lose the last thing in his life that held any meaning for him.

I made a point of being extra-nice to everyone that day. The staff was terrific and they took good care of me. My wife was there every day, studying for her next test while I slept fitfully on morphine and read and watched stupid shows on TV about cute animals.

I'm back home now. Tired, weak, etc. But I'm okay, and I realize how lucky I am. Not like the man I met outside. I suspect my thoughts will turn to him, and his son, often.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Already September, no no no

Holy shit, are we well into September already? This sucks. I haven't accomplished anywhere NEAR what I wanted to this year. Days crept by, weeks, months, and I've puttered around with a handful of different writing projects with very little to show for it so far. I've actually completed three short stories. That's it.

Fuckin' shameful is what it is.

Like every year, I started off with a big MASTER PLAN, and like every year, I never quite got it done. Mostly out of laziness. You know how it is, I reckon. You work a day job, long hours, and even though the job is pretty much a cakewalk, you come home tired at the end of the day and all you want to do is maybe watch a movie or read a little and go to bed. "I'll get up early tomorrow morning and write," you say. But of course you don't.

So life becomes nothing, really, other than existence. And you start getting depressed, maybe, beating yourself up, wondering if you can even really call yourself a writer anymore.

Anyway, you probably know the drill.

So here we are, September, year almost gone. By this time last year, I'd written something like 1,000 pages of new material. This year, not even a fourth of that.

So what do I do about it? Well, the only thing to do, really, is to stop looking back at the wasted months and re-commit to actually getting some stuff done with the time left. I'm well into a Hawthorne novella, and if I do it right I can finish it before the month is over. And then another one (the long-put-off Hawthorne-Laramie cross-over). And then perhaps start on something longer. I don't know. Give ole' Hawthorne a break next year before starting the "second cycle" of his stories.

Mostly, though, I just need to stop being a lazy, tired bastard and get some shit done. I need to follow the example of ace writers like James Reasoner, a man who fuckin' WRITES, brothers and sisters. This whole "nothing more than existence" thing needs to stop.

Anyway, point being: I'm taking a hiatus from the blog here and the social media sites I've become so addicted to (yeah, YOU, Facebook, you seductive Jezebel) until I actually have these things written. Next time I talk to you, my friends, I'll have some solid stories behind me.