X-Ray Visions

Yesterday, I got a call from my new rheumatologist with the results of some recent X-rays he ordered.

Oh wait, some exposition first for those who are new to the show: Almost a decade ago (have I really been an “adult” for an entire decade?) I started getting severe pain and stiffness in my joints, especially my back and neck, and I was told it was most likely a rare and chronic type of arthritis.  They tried various uber-strong painkiller meds on me, which gave me lots of stomach pain and didn’t really help the joint pain at all, plus I do have a bit of a rebellious streak, so I just stopped taking them.  Swimming and stretching helped a lot and didn’t make my stomach hurt, so I stuck with that. 

Now, years later, the pain has been getting worse, so I went back to the doctors circuit (primary care provider to blood tests to rheumatologist to x-rays to more blood tests etc.) to see what was up.  And it seems these latest X-rays show that my joints have degenerated, with quite a bit of visible damage on my spine.

So in the first 24 hours or so since this news, I have experienced three reactions to this:

  1. Whoa, this is actually serious. I really do have a chronic problem I need to deal with.
  2. I feel oddly relieved to get a verifiable confirmation of the pain I’ve been feeling for almost 10 years.  I know that probably sounds strange, but a big part of me is like, hey this is not just in my head and it’s not just me being whiny, something really is happening in my body, yay.
  3. I feel hopeful, because apparently there have been a lot of advances in treatment of this in recent years (mostly involving biologics) that seem to be quite effective.  And, in contrast to the meds they tried on me before (which only put a band-aid on the symptoms, if that) these new treatments actually address the cause and can help prevent further joint deterioration and loss of mobility.  This is most definitely a Good Thing, plus I get to take part in a very science-fictioney treatment.

So mostly I am feeling pretty good about this, because I’m in the same condition and position I was two days ago, I just have some new information, and information is usually a useful thing to have. I don’t anticipate posting regular medical updates here, but for some reason this time I felt the urge to share.

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Whiny Narrators

High FidelityA couple days ago I started reading High Fidelity by Nick Hornby and I got through about 300 pages in like 48 hours, even with the craziness of my Busy Backson lifestyle. Hornby is one of those writers who’s just so friggin’ readable.  The amazing thing is that his first-person narrator spends most of the 300+ pages whining, and yet for some reason I can’t stop, I just want more and more of that whiny narration. How does Hornby manage to pull that off, damn it? I think it works because even when Rob (our slacker hero) is rambling on and on, there’s still always something that’s left unsaid.  The opening is a fab example, with Rob listing his top 5 worst break-ups and telling his recently-exed girlfriend that she didn’t even come close to making the list – but the more he whines about the trauma of his middle school break-ups, the more we wise readers can be sure that this latest break up has torn him up far worse than any of the others.

All of this has been very helpful, since recently I’ve been trying to finish my own whiny narrator story.  I may have a new record on this one – three years of working on it on and off, well over a dozen drafts (including one at Clarion) – but I think I’m close to getting it right, thanks in part to the lessons I’ve gotten from Mr. Hornby.

A Few Bits of Good News

I’ve gotten a couple of bits of good news in the past few weeks. Shimmer has accepted one of my stories, “Crepuscular.”  Shimmer is one of my favorite zines, and they’ve been publishing some great stuff, especially in the magic realism/slipstream territory, so I”m honored to be part of it. “Crepuscular” is part love story about a wannabe rock star and a public health official, part tragic tale of a magical Francophile snowman, but more than anything it’s a sort of dialogue with The Little Prince, one of my favorite books ever, both as a kid and an adult.  The story should be out some time in the fall–you can subscribe now to make sure you get your copy.

In other news, the latest Year’s Best Science Fiction collection, edited by Gardner Dozois, came out a couple weeks ago.  “This is My Blood,” which I co-wrote with Chris Lynch, was listed in the honorable mentions.  I was pleased to see a bunch of stories by other Clarion-mates in the list as well.

Obviously I haven’t been too active here the past couple months.  Life has been intruding on blogging in a number of ways, including running a huge event, multiple crises at work and home, and moving. It looks like things are quieting down a bit now….

Right now I’m enjoying the nostalgic childhood ritual of watching Saturday morning  cartoons.  The Batman Brave and the Bold cartoon is awesome – so fun to see a lighter side of Batman amidst all the ultra-serious Dark Knight  interpretations that dominate lately.