An Update, or “no, they’re not roofing materials”

So. What’s happened since last we talked?


I swear I’m not making this up.

I got shingles.

swore I wasn’t making this up! Jeez. More after the break.

Shingles, for those not in the know, are the grown-up version of the chicken pox you get if you got the non-grown-up version as a kid (or later — Chicken Pox don’t care). The itchy spots fade relatively quickly, but the virus — a herpes variation called Herpes zoster — never actually leaves. It lives in your nervous system, waiting for the right moment. And, when the right moment comes, it emerges.

And this time itching really isn’t the issue.

There is a rash. It is not a pretty rash. It is an ugly, pustule-laden rash that hurts like Hell to the touch. And it’s not even the fun part.

The fun part is the fact that the virus has actually travelled to your skin up a specific nerve strand. A nerve strand it proceeds to attack. The actual rash is the virus erupting out of where the nerve reaches the skin. Literally erupting, mind. Exploding pustules is the way it spreads itself to new victims (as, you guessed it, Chicken Pox).

Now, this process affects people differently depending on the nerve strand that’s affected and a number of other factors. For some folks, the pain is mostly related to the rash, and it’s not at all fun. However, the rash responds quite well to antiviral treatment if caught early, and we caught this early. It’ll last some time, mind (the course of Shingles is roughly 4-5 weeks.)

For other people, however, the nerve itself decides to respond by sending the ‘pain’ signal. And for some people, that signal doesn’t stop when the antivirals do their work. It goes on. It can be agonizing — like liquid fire being poured through your body while you’re being stabbed from the outside and inside. Oh, and there’s a rash with pustules and those hurt too.

So. You saw my last post. You know how 2014 has been going for us.

Any guesses which version I got?

The pain is often debilitating. Opiates work reasonably well with it, but I can’t take them at work (and I need to be working right now — we have major time-sensitive projects. I’m often in a locked office to limit my contact with others, of course) and I have other concerns over taking things like that. How debilitating? Well, it’s 3:22 am when I’m writing this, and I need to be up in roughly three hours, and I’m not sleeping because the pain said sleeping was for the weak, and refused to accept that I counted as ‘the weak.’ And opiates are off the table because… well, see above. ‘Work.’ I wouldn’t be through the post-effects before I would have to be there.

And, well, it’s just pain, right? And it’ll only last another threeish weeks, right?

Well, unless I’m one of those ‘lucky’ folks for whom the neuropathic pain becomes permanent in some form or other.

2014, man. 2014.

How has this affected writing? Well, I haven’t posted my master plan post here yet, so you know it’s had some bad effect. However, I have begun reaching back out in social media. (Facebook, which is semi-private, and Twitter/Tumblr, which are public), and have even written a couple of essays.

Which is to say… writing is beginning to come back.

Also, I had some amazingly generous donors after my last post. (Which wasn’t what I was going for, but I’m not at all going to knock their generosity. They’re amazing.) With that… well, first off, we were able to put gas in the car for trips to medical experts on the other end of the state for Weds’s continued recovery, and secondly, I was able to pledge for the Storium Kickstarter — which means I got access to the Storium Beta.

Why is that significant?

Because Storium is text-based, and in prepping a game through it, I’m being forced back into the creative mode — and finding time to be creative again.

And that leads, inexorably, to Lovelace 1/2 and its ilk. Andi will not be denied forever.

I won’t kid. It’s a slow process, especially since there is all the pain right now. But it’s a start.

It’s a start.

And some nights, when you’re hanging out in the Agony Booth with your old friend Pain, that’s enough.

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#1 David Bishop on 05.22.14 at 9:36 am

I’ve already declared “This Year” by the Mountain Goats is my official song of 2014. But I can share – you can have it be your song too, if you want.

#2 brigidkeely on 05.22.14 at 10:19 am

Twice now i’ve had herpes zoster in my left ear. it’s EXCRUCIATING. I have partial hearing loss in that ear because of it (scar tissue on the ear drum). I don’t remember the full course of the first time I got it (I was 3 or so, had been exposed to Chicken Pox but didn’t get it) but the last time it only lasted… 3 weeks? I found that fistfulls of excedrin worked to take the edge off the pain. It sure would’ve been nice to have had insurance and been able to see someone about it… I had no idea one could take antivirals. Now I know for next time! Anyway, I don’t know what you’re going through exactly, but I’ve skirted THIS particular issue at least and it’s horrific and you have all my sympathy.

#3 Noëlle on 05.22.14 at 10:49 am

Lord, Eric. I had neuropathic shingles in … 2006? 2007? something like that, so you have every ounce of my sympathy.

I really hope the rest of 2014 starts looking up for you. I wish I could do something to help.

#4 Elegy on 05.22.14 at 9:57 pm

You’ve had several catastrophes in a row, Eric, and I am terribly sorry for you and your lady wife. I wish you both strength, and that saving sense of humour (which you seem to maintain *quite* effectively).

I don’t know you personally, but I do know your writing — and I’ve missed it. Superheroes! Literal superheroes… and not so metafiction-y as to be unrecognisable or incomprehensible. Your version of the mythos is particularly interesting; it’s character-focused, with sympathetic (or at least intriguing) characters, and demolishes “trope” stereotypes so casually one scarcely notices. You make it look easy!

I’ve also missed your ability to write and spell grammatically correct English (and yes, I *am* one of those grammarians about whom your mother warned you). ;-) You’re one of the few who still understand that proper English isn’t an affectation but a necessary tool of *communication*, that the more clearly you can “say” it, the more readily you can be understood.

I’ve been checking your sites throughout your forced hiatus, and while I’m delighted to see updates — and better yet, updates contemplating your return to writing! — I’m dreadfully sorry about the circumstances. But it’s still so good to “see” you again…

Welcome back, Eric. You have been missed.

#5 thatkeith on 05.24.14 at 2:13 pm

Dude, sympathies! I got shingles a couple of years ago, almost exactly the same time as my dad got it. It was a bit nasty, that’s for sure. But it passed. I hope yours fades as soon as possible.

#6 Charles on 06.06.14 at 1:08 pm

That is incredibly unfortunate, and my sympathies go out to you and your family.
I just had occasion to think about your stories today when I was making a list of my favorite superhero web fiction. I hadn’t been here in a while so I came to check up on things and find this. I hope you are one of the fortunate cases, and are able to live without pain again soon. (It’s one of those things people don’t appreciate enough, I know from experience)

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