Showing posts with label Pain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pain. Show all posts

21 May 2019

Lefty Calls the Shots

by Michael Bracken

Late evening, Thursday, April 11, 2019, I entered the emergency room and spent much of the night there. Temple thought I was having a heart attack. I felt confident I was not, but I knew something was wrong.

Traitor!
Many of my symptoms were consistent with a heart attack—chest pain that extended to my left shoulder and shoulder blade and spread down my left arm and up the left side of my neck—but the pain had begun on Sunday and had grown progressively worse during the days prior to my hospital trip. I had lost grip strength in my left hand, my fingers on that hand weren’t functioning as they should, and my blood pressure was about thirty points higher than my normal.

Were I having a heart attack, many of these symptoms would likely have occurred in a brief amount of time—fifteen to thirty minutes—rather than over the course of days, but that didn’t make them any less concerning. The doctor and the nurses—none of whom appeared to be playing cards—asked questions, poked me with needles, ran tests, and ultimately ruled out a heart attack. Having undergone quadruple bypass surgery in 2008, this was good news.

The prognosis: Chest wall inflammation or costochondritus. The doctor recommended over-the-counter anti-inflammatories and rest.

I returned home in the wee hours of Friday morning having learned that, except for the registration process, a stay in the emergency room is much like a stay at Motel 6: The bed is uncomfortable, there’s no room service, and the people in the next room make lots of noise.

AFTERMATH

For several days, full use of my left hand—regardless of whatever level of pain I felt—was curtailed. I could not, for example, carry a full dinner plate to the table with that hand, and when I attempted to type, those fingers never seemed to strike the keys at which I aimed them.

As a writer, this was, perhaps, what most concerned me about my situation. If the words in my brain never get transferred to a page, am I really a writer?

I attempted to dictate, but this proved as futile now as it did in 2008 when, following bypass surgery, I purchased my first dictation software. The amount of time I spend cleaning up gibberish and reformatting to something resembling proper format makes the process cumbersome and counter-productive, and requires nearly as much use of both hands as straight-forward typing.

Using my right-hand only, I handwrote a fair amount on a notepad. Unfortunately, this requires me to eventually type everything, which is akin to doubling my workload and postponing but not diminishing the use of my left hand.

Thumb typing on my iPhone proved perhaps the best of several bad choices, and I wrote much of the opening scene of a new story this way. Though the file required formatting when copied into a Word document, there was far less gibberish to clean up than when I dictated.

Note of these solutions proved ideal, in part because I tried to force the process to fit my method of writing rather than adapting my method of writing to fit the process.

LOOKING AHEAD

As I write this, about two weeks after my emergency room visit, the pain—except for occasional twinges—has diminished to barely noticeable, and my grip strength has mostly returned, though a bit weaker at the end of the day than the beginning. Unfortunately, the fingers of my left hand continue to vex me.

All of this suggests that I am not prepared for aging. I have not planned for infirmities, lapses in mental prowess, and the like. Despite toying with dictation software and thumb typing, I have no clear plan for how to continue writing when I lose control of my body. And will I someday be tended to by medical personnel who think I’m hallucinating when all I’m trying to do is tell them the cool story I thought up while idling away my time in some home for the aged?

I don’t have answers, and I don’t have solutions, so I suspect these thoughts will occupy a fair amount of my time going forward. I only hope that I’ll not let concerns about the future interfere with today’s production.

Throwback Tuesday: My first novel, Deadly Campaign, released as an audiobook in 1994 and as a trade paperback in 2000, is still available from Wildside Press and can be ordered from Amazon. Covering City Hall during an election year was all the excitement reporter Dan Fox needed—until he discovered Alderman Bill Franklin’s bullet-ridden body. While Fox digs for the story, long-hidden secrets rise to the surface—secrets that threaten the political fabric of the city—and Fox soon discovers he’s caught in the middle of a Deadly Campaign.

NEWS FLASH!

Between writing the above and the date this gets posted, I attended Malice Domestic and returned home as co-editor of Black Cat Mystery Magazine. A few months ago, Carla Coupe announced that she was stepping away from Wildside Press and, following wonderful discussions with both Carla and publisher John Betancourt, Ive become her replacement.

Wildside Press has published several of my books and Ive had a story in every issue of BCMM, so I have a long and positive relationship with John and Wildside, and Im looking forward to what the future holds. The next few issues will contain stories Carla and John have already selected, so my initial impact may be minimal. Carla and John will be guiding me through the transition, and Ill share important information when I have it.

18 April 2012

Pull the Other One

by Robert Lopresti

I have to warn you. I am a Gloomy Gus today.  Not the usual jolly soul you have come to love and admire over the years.  My milk of human kindness is long past pull-date and my sense of human warmth is approaching absolute zero.

“What is the cause of this uncharacteristic gloom?” you may well ask.  “How have you been cast down to this wretched state, Rob, dear friend?  What, to coin a phrase, is harshing your mellow?”

I shall elucidate.  Yesterday I pulled a muscle in my leg.  It was my own fault, I admit it.  I engaged in a dangerous and reckless activity.  Exercise.

(Let this be a warning to all the impressionable youth out there.  Don’t be led astray by peer pressure!   Sure, it may look tempting when the “cool kids” are out there jogging and lifting weights, but don’t fall into the trap.   Do you really want to end up a muscle-bound  health freak, surviving way past the deaths of most of your friends, not to mention the Social Security system?)

Where was I?  Oh yes.  My leg hurts.  But that’s not all.  My injury is playing holy havoc with my lunch schedule.

At the advice of yet another health nut I recently started spending half of each lunch hour walking while devouring my finger food lunch.  At first, I resented the idea, because I normally spent this interval reading, and reading, as I am sure most of you out there in writer-blog land will understand, is very important to me.

I did find a solution: audio books.  I went to a department store and tried to find something as low tech as a portable CD player hidden among the grains of rice that can hold Bach’s complete works, and the cell phones that guess your weight to the last kilogram.

I did find the the CD players,, hanging out rather sheepishly next to a single, sad, cassette tape player.  Remember them?

Anyway, thus equipped, I went to the library in search of a suitable audio book to read (e-read? Hear? Listen to?).  I settled on Dennis Lehane’s Moonlight Mile, which I highly recommend.   In fact, if the publisher happens to read this, you have my permission to use the following as a blurb.

Moonlight Mile is my favorite book to read while I am walking and eating.  –Robert Lopresti, author of stuff

So, my gimpy leg has shot that half of my lunch hour to hell.  The second half of this festive event is normally spent writing, either a file I brought from home on a flash drive, or editing a story I have already printed out.

Alas, this morning, in my rush to transfer all my worldly goods from my bike panier to my backpack, preparatory to catching a bus to work, I managed to leave both my paper file and flashdrive at home, where they are no doubt entertaining the cats no end.  So I can neither walk nor write.

This reminds me, as so much does, of Jerome K. Jerome, a great Victorian humorist.  As I recall  he once lamented that if he dared to leave on a trip without bringing all the pages and tools he needed to write he was overcome with a desperate urge to write.  On the other hand, if he brought them a long he was never tempted to pull them out for as much as a glance.  Jerome (out of respect, I am calling him by his last name.  I know it is hard to tell) was a great student of human nature.

Have I mentioned that my leg hurts?  If you have never heard one of your own muscles tearing, let me assure you that it is a memorable experience.

This may explain why, lacking the ability to write something useful, I  chose instead to impose this rant on you. Fortunately it is now over.

And remember, if you must exercise, please take the elementary precaution of first removing your legs.