Thoughts, maybe

I’m finding it hard to get back into the groove.  I suspect I was not in one before, but I was writing, and the stories were coming together.

My biggest accomplishment for the latter part of 2016 was writing 50,000 words for a pseudo NANOWRIMO book.  I didn’t enter because I didn’t think I could put 50,000 words down in the allotted time.

As it happened the creative mind was organised and the ideas and words flowed.  I know it was just supposed to be raw writing, but I even had time to rewrite the start.  As we all know, by the time you get to the end, a lot of stuff at the start needs to be fixed, especially in light of plot changes and continuity.

Now, looking at the document on screen, I have the job of editing and re-writing.

Perhaps I should give that a few more months before I start.

Then there is the sequel I’m writing.

Here’s the thing.

It was done and dusted, reading as a final re-read before handing over to the editor.

Should not have done the final re-read!

I don’t know if anyone else has the same problem, but as soon as I had finished it, I had a feeling (oh no not one of those feelings, I can hear the editor saying) and something was not quite right.

I hate it when I am in one of those moods, and looking at it, I could see where there was a problem, and began the re-write.

Problem is, it affects later on, so there’s going to be cuts and additions.

So the question is what do I attack first?

The new novel, the old novel, or start another which had been buzzing around in my head?

Or just pour another drink and go back to watching the tennis?

Decisions, decisions ….

Never say never

Well, that was what I said when I left the hospital the first time – never again.

Guess what?

Three days later I was being taken by ambulance back to the hospital.

I went to see my local GP about a cough that wouldn’t let me speak, and I was having a little trouble breathing.

OK, I was having a lot of trouble breathing, so it was straight on oxygen.

As you can imagine I hate hospitals.  It’s where a lot of people go to die, and, for a short time, lying in my bed in Emergency, listening to all the possibilities of what was wrong with me, I started to believe it was my time.

Don’t ever consent to a nasal swab, it’s like having ear buds shoved up your nose and into your brain.  It hurts like hell, and makes your eyes run like taps.  This after the nurse said I would only have momentary discomfort.

It was still hurting three days later.

When the X-rays came back it was confirmed I had pneumonia.  A comparison with an X-ray from my first visit showed clouds where my lungs were, whereas the previous one had none.

It was thought I may had acquired it in hospital the first time.

So trying to find the bug was going to be far more intensive and painful than it being just an ‘ordinary’ case of pneumonia.  These bugs were more resistant to treatment and harder to track down.

The bad news, I wasn’t going anywhere for at least a week, possibly more.

It took 9 days to get over it and be well enough to be discharged.  For the first few days I could not breath without oxygen, and for the first five, I could do little other than lie down or sit up in bed.  A walk to the shower or toilet, about 10 yards at best, exhausted me.

So there was little to do other than observe the medical staff and other patients.

Enough research to fill several pads.

And when I was well enough, I spent some time writing.

Never let it be said there isn’t a silver lining in at least one of those clouds!

The story behind the story – Echoes from the Past

The novel ‘Echoes from the past’ started out as a short story I wrote about 30 years ago, titled ‘The birthday’.

My idea was to take a normal person out of their comfort zone and led on a short but very frightening journey to a place where a surprise birthday party had been arranged.

Thus the very large man with a scar and a red tie was created.

So was the friend with the limousine who worked as a pilot.

So were the two women, Wendy and Angelina, who were Flight Attendants that the pilot friend asked to join the conspiracy.

I was going to rework the short story, then about ten pages long, into something a little more.

And like all re-writes, especially those I have anything to do with, it turned into a novel.

There was motivation.  I had told some colleagues at the place where I worked at the time that I liked writing, and they wanted a sample.  I was going to give them the re-worked short story.  Instead I gave them ‘Echoes from the past’

Originally it was not set anywhere in particular.

But when considering a location, I had, at the time, recently been to New York in December, and and visited Brooklyn and Queens, as well as a lot of New York itself.  We were there for New Years, and it was an experience I’ll never forget.

One evening we were out late, and finished up in Brooklyn Heights, near the waterfront, and there was rain and snow, it was cold and wet, and their were apartment building, and I thought, this is the place where my main character will live.

It had a very spooky atmosphere, the sort where ghosts would not be unexpected.  I felt more than one shiver go up and down my spine in the few minutes I was there.

I had taken notes, as I always do, of everywhere we went so I had a ready supply of locations I could use, changing the names in some cases.

Fifth Avenue near the Rockefeller center is amazing at first light, and late at night with the Seasonal decorations and lights.

The original main character was a shy and man of few friends, hence not expecting the surprise party.  I enhanced that shyness into purposely lonely because of an issue from his past that leaves him always looking over his shoulder and ready to move on at the slightest hint of trouble.  No friends, no relationships, just a very low profile.

Then I thought, what if he breaks the cardinal rule, and begins a relationship?

But it is also as much an exploration of a damaged soul, as it is the search for a normal life, without having any idea what normal was, and how the understanding of one person can sometimes make all the difference in what we may think or feel.

And, of course, I wanted a happy ending.

Except for the bad guys.


I’ve been missing …

I’ve learned a lot in the last few days about how badly you can screw up your life and not realize what’s happening until it’s almost too late.

Firstly, I’m taking a relatively small dose of methetrexate for psoriatic arthritis.  Things were good, well, as good as the can be, suffering the side effects because you are supposed to believe it’s controlling the problem.

Note: Psoriatic arthritis cannot be cured, only have its effects ‘managed’.  I have been on it for 15 months and to a degree it’s working.

The problems begin when you have other problems, and then it becomes a juggling act with all the pills that one has to take.

So, secondly, let’s assume that the medication regime for the first ailment, psoriatic arthritis is:


folic acid

panadol osteo (for pain management)

steroids, but only short term

Leflunomide (also for arthritis)

There’s the first problem, steroids work really well for arthritis.  Unfortunately the long term effect of using them is horrendous.

This leaves the second problem, pain management.  Panadol Osteo just doesn’t cut it.

This leaves you with generally with frequent periods of pain and the ugly side effects of dizziness in sunshine, constant nausea, and toilet problems.

But, for the really stupid, and believe me, I fit perfectly into that category, you can take Celebrex, a stronger form of ipbrufen, or you can take ipbrufen

It helps with the pain, but as I discovered, almost too late, it leads to acute kidney failure. Oh yes, and a lot of other unwanted problems.

Which brings us to thirdly, the fact I finished in hospital for quite a different reason altogether.

Methetrexate actually lessens the effectiveness of your immune system.  This can lead to all sorts of other complications and in my particular case, chest pain and short breath.

Several doctors considered this to be one of the side effects of methetrexate and reduced immune system leading to a respiratory infection.

I labored under the impression this was the problem this time but after three weeks I thought it was time to see a doctor.

An ECG and general check didn’t dispute this initial diagnoses, and for it I was put on a particular type of antibiotic.

Ok, this has side effects like rashing in the sun and badly behaving with methetrexate.  Ok, let’s hope it works.

But just in case he order a particular blood test to see if there was any cardiac issues.  It came back abnormally high and I was told to drop everything a get to a hospital.

I did.

So I’m getting all these tests for the possibility I was going to have an imminent heart attack, I lying on a bed in the emergency department, almost having a heart attack from being given the news that because I had psoriatic arthritis exponentially increases the possibility of having one.

The echo-cardiogram said I was not having a cardiac event.   Investigation of the symptoms pointed towards angina, but with a few more unpronounceable words either side.

But that was, the doctor said, the least of my problems.  The next minute he says my blood test has come back advising I had acute kidney failure, my kidneys had stopped working.

That explained a lot.

So, here’s the thing.  Pill juggling is not something we lay people should contemplate.  There’s a reason why you are asked to consult your doctor before taking any different medicine, particularly if it isn’t a prescribed medicine.

I have learned by bitter experience.

Do not take ipbrufen or any of its friends if you are on methetrexate.  If you do it will destroy your kidneys.  I was lucky it was caught in time.

And also there was another medication I take for high blood pressure, has a component in it that doesn’t help your kidneys either.

It means of course that you need to have a regular review of your medication regime, and regular blood tests to make sure the pill combinations aren’t killing you.

As I said I’m lucky.

Except I now have a problem with angina and the remedies for this are far, far scarier than my psoriatic arthritis.

That is, until I finished up in hospital again several days later with a far more serious problem.