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< Piro >

"heart marked"

Thursday - February 28, 2013

[Piro] - 22:31:23 - [link here]

As most of you probably know, the past five years or so have been difficult ones for my family in terms of health. One of the real low points was when Sarah was diagnosed with Lymphoma a few years ago. While she is not cancer-free yet, since her surgery eight months ago worked wonders and she has been recovering amazingly well, especially in the past few months.

The only problem is that now it seems to be my turn. :(

Which really, seriously irritates me. I'm the big doufus that is in generally good health no matter how little care he takes of himself. For me, “health problems” are things like mashing my toes on door jams, getting my arms shredded by cats or driving cactus needles under my thumbnails when closing the blinds. All the other meatpot stuff jumbled up inside just sorta... works. I mean, it's not like i generally do stuff that really endangers my health - Sarah and I eat generally healthily enough, and while i don't get enough exercise i don't smoke or drink or anything all that harmful to myself, so... i'm sorta sitting here going WTF?

Since rants by definition fall into the tl;dr;ld (too long; didn't read; lotsa drama) category and getting to the point is generally part of 'too long' thing, I'll start with what's up: I seem to have developed some potentially serious cardiac problems. Specifically, one side of my heart is enlarged and my ejection factor from that side is kinda low, resulting in light headedness and serious over tiredness. My understanding is that with the right treatment, i should be ok, i should know more next week. Hopefully it’s not too bad - certainly not as bad as finding out via a 'cardiac event' of some sort, so maybe this is actually ok :) i'm trying to be positive.

now for the tl;dr;ld version, if you want it in story format. Yes, there are some amusing parts.

I've had a Bigeminy (which means that my heart skips a beat) for a long time, at least, since 2004 when i went to the ER to deal with a chunk of ceiling tile that got into my eye and wouldn't wash out. There was some puzzled panic after I got there and then they kept doing EKGs, X-rays and other tests as i lay there for several hours wondering when they were gonna get the damn thing out of my eye. Bigeminy is supposedly not a major health issue in and of itself, you can putter along just fine and have it never bother you. Since everything else looked fine after their exhaustive diagnostic efforts, I was told to not worry too much about it and stopped at a hardware store to buy protective goggles on the way home.

Back in October i found that i was starting to feel tired a lot more readily than i had before. It sort of creeped up on me, but i was finding that by 9pm i was wiped out and just didn't have the energy to sit down and work on comics the way i used to. I figured it was just things catching up with me, stress, my body just not tolerating being overtired anymore, getting older. I would also feel extremely light headed after doing things like raking leaves or lifting heavy stuff up and down stairs. I just put that down to being out of shape. Getting more sleep helped, and with Sarah's help i've improved my diet, which also helped. In November and December I worked pretty hard to try to get up to date with the MegaGear store and with the help of some friends i actually managed to get things into shape, almost catching up right before Christmas.

I might have overdid it a bit, because on Christmas eve I found myself feeling oddly light headed, almost like i was gonna fall over. When it happened again a few hours later, i told sarah about it and wondered if it would be safe for me to drive on our planned visit to family that day. While sitting down talking to her, it happened AGAIN... which was a little alarming, so we decided that maybe, just to be safe, I should go to the ER to make sure everything was OK. Well, there was something going on, and it happened again while i was on the monitor: I had at lest four skipped beats in a row, which, as the nurse said, would make anyone want to sit down.

You might remember that in my previous life i worked as an architect, and one of my areas of expertise was working on medical facilities and hospital renovations. In fact, one of my earliest projects was an Emergency Room renovation. I often joked with people that i've seen more than enough of the inside of hospitals to ever need to visit them as a patient. I really need to keep my mouth shut sometimes.

It wasn't too long before i found myself in an ambulance of all things on my way to University of Michigan hospital where i would undergo more extensive observations. This was all a bit depressing because it was Christmas Eve, after all, and i was going to have to spend the night in the hospital. This was exacerbated by the fact that it was snowing and Sarah and Jack had to go home before the roads got really bad. Jack is young enough that he took it all in stride and was ok, but you can imagine laying in an ER bed all by yourself on christmas eve, seriously wondering if there is something wrong with your heart, hungry because you haven't eaten anything since breakfast and not wanting to bother the nurses to turn the TV on or anything... it was a little depressing.

It wasn't too long, however, before i was glad Jack had gone home. There was some grousing and yelling in the next room where a patient had been sleeping off some serious boozin. The police had come to help manage him, it seems, and there was a lot of very colorful conversation that was far more entertaining than anything i'd seen on TV recently. At some point, the patient needed to use the restroom, so the police escorted him down the hall, past my room... It was Santa Claus. Big old guy with white hair, white beard, bent cane and all... grumbling and tottering down the hall in nothing but a hospital gown. One of the officers looked after him and said "can we get him some pants? that ain't right."

For some reason, that made me feel better and amused the hell out of me. Even so, i'm glad Jack had gone home by then. Explaining that would have been... fun. ^^;;

The doctors wanted to do a lot of follow up, obviously, including a stress test and have me wearing a heart monitor, which i did for several weeks in January (including my trip to Ohayocon). The stress test was actually very informative, but also a little alarming. It highlighted the fact that one side of my heart is enlarged and the ejection factor of that side is really low. I'm meeting with the cardiologist next week, but they've already put me on a Beta blocker and an ACE inhibitor because he was concerned by my stress test. One good thing is that my blood pressure is still fine (i don't have hypertension) but my pulse rate is really low, in the 35-42 range, which is giving some pause... not sure where things go from here, but hopefully i'll know more next week.

Does this sorta have me spooked? Yes, it does, actually. Until last week, i figured this was just something funny with my Bigemini thing, but i'm starting to gather that there's more to it than that. Another way to look at it, however, is that i haven't been feeling right for a while now and its been effecting everything I do. Lots of people have heart issues and most of them can be treated effectively, and maybe i'll actually start feeling better once i'm on the right regimen of medication and (gasp) maybe even just generally getting healthier overall. I don't know, i'm certainly going to do whatever i have to do to deal with this, and i don't need to say why.

I’ve been actually trying to pick up the pace on comic (which i was actually starting to do) and managing things better at the store (which i am several weeks behind again now) - and i felt that i really needed to do this rant to let everyone know what's going on. If you are waiting for your order from the Megagear store, thank you for your patience - hopefully this weekend i can get caught up with printing and get the remaining orders out the door. As for the comic... i admit, i had a week or so here where i was really feeling really down about all this. I enjoy drawing, it generally cheers me up when I feel down, so when i'm too down to draw, thats not good. ^^;; But i think i'm on the better side of that now. In fact, for this rant I dug out an old Ping sketch that seemed highly appropriate for this rant, cleaned it up and gave her a quick color just for this rant. :) Heart Mark with Fangs, I call it :P

So, enough of that. I have no idea if I should drama or not about all this, but thats the whole point of a rant - if you want to avoid the ;ld, you can always ;dr; :P

< RayKremer >

The Broken Prophecy

"Broken Prophecy"

Tuesday - December 18, 2012

[RayKremer] - 17:43:26 - [link here]

You folks remember the "Behind the Masque" short story placed in the Endgames game world, right? You'll note two authors are listed there, though these are Fred's characters and he provided a lot of input to the story, the main writing duties were performed by Thomas Knapp, aka Chemiclord, aka that third guy often seen behind the MegaGear convention table with Fred and Ray. This is of course not the only writing he does, just over a year ago he took over writing duties for the webcomic Exiern, and he's got a blog site that features his original universe called the Gate Series (though there is a recent post there relevant to Endgames). If you google properly you may even find some fanfiction he's written.

So that's Tom, and he launched a Kickstarter project today to produce the first full length novel entry in the Gate Series in real, dead tree, printed book format. I know money is tight for a lot of people these days, but please won't you consider joining me in supporting this effort. I'll let Tom tell you more about it in his own words:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I'm not entirely certain how to present this (and no doubt many of you have already heard this rant), so bear with me.

For ten years, I sat on this manuscript of mine (with a couple limited releases for what amounted to family and friends). It wasn't something I advertised, wasn't something I particularly pushed. It got a handful of sniffs from various publishers, but for one reason or another (didn't like their copyright policy... I didn't want to "sex it up" or "clean up the language", I didn't want to alter the content, etc...) the deal never took off.

But at the same time, sitting on it was going nowhere... and it's not right to keep things going nowhere.

Over the last month, I have been gathering information, getting quotes, and negotiating with a printer... and I think it's as good of a time as any to actually make this a reality.

But for that, I'm going to need your help.

Over on kickstarter, I've started a project, for a book titled The Broken Prophecy. This is effectively what amounts to a pre-order campaign; if enough support is there, the printing will go as scheduled. If not... then no one is out anything, and I go back to the drawing board.

I'm not particularly one to sell myself, so I have no idea if this is going to work out. But I can't keep putting things off and hoping things will fall into place. Success or failure, it's time to actually try.

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