I Am Still Alive

The blog has been quiet for a long time. Today is my “blogiversary”, so I’m mostly just posting to say that no, I am not dead. Not for lack of trying – more on that later.

First an update on some projects: The Father Chessman series is still in progress. Book 3, Oaths of My Fathers is written and is sort of ready for beta readers… kind of. Book 4, Crimes of My Fathers, is in progress, but it ran into problems. The final book 5 is still pending. The sequel to Hell Bent, Stone Killer, is near the end of its first draft but hasn’t been updated in a while… for reasons.

OK, so why the silence and all the delays? In short: bad health, both physical and mental.

I’ve been in the hospital a lot with an ongoing series of small-bowel obstructions, i.e. the plumbing keeps getting jammed up in the most inaccessible space. I’ve had thirteen now, I think, but I’m starting to lose count. It might be more. I’ve had two surgeries attempting to fix it, and who knows, there might be a third in my future. The mortality (aka “Will this kill me?”) goes up with age, so it’s just going to get more dangerous.

On top of that, when I went into the hospital for my most recent one, I tested positive for COVID-19. It was asymptomatic, and I have since tested negative after the recommended isolation period where I was limited to two rooms of the house, all on my lonesome. I appear to have come through unscathed, but I have a followup with my doctor soon to check for any lung/heart damage. My message to you: Wear your mask!

I should also say that somewhere in the early 2010s I sustained a back injury – more accurately several repeated back injuries – that have left me with herniated discs and chronic pain. Oh, let’s not forget the migraines that I’ve suffered since a concussion as a teenager. While they have become about half as intense, they’ve made up for it by becoming near constant, 24/7. (Yes, I’ve had an MRI, and to quote Arnold Schwarzenegger, “It’s not a toomah!”)

Despite all that, I tend to think of myself as being in moderately good health. I’m overweight, but I exercise regularly, including 3+ miles on the treadmill at least five times a week. So, most of my health problems are the hidden, pain-in-the-ass kind of stuff.

The mental health side of things… is hard to talk about, but the more of us who talk about it, the more it’s supposed to help those who are also suffering in silence. The short of it is that I’ve had chronic anxiety and depression for somewhere between fifteen and fifty years. On top of that, I ended up with a bad case of PTSD because of some stuff with my kids – that’s a whole ’nuther story – complete with persistent tremors, full-on flashbacks, and panic attacks. A real shit-show.

So, a few years back, I decided to make my mental health a top priority. (Yeah, “a” vs. “the” top priority… don’t get me started.) So, I’ve been jumping through the medication hoops and doing EMDR therapy and in general putting other stuff aside. Things have improved a lot, but it also meant I didn’t write, paint, or do much else creatively for quite a while.

I did start writing again late last year, starting into Crimes of My Fathers as my 2019 NaNoWriMo project, but that petered out as the pandemic hit. Since I’ve been working from home for 20+ years, my day-to-day routine didn’t change much, but that “world is on fire” vibe dried up the well in short order. I have just recently started writing again, but it’s on a side project that may never see the light of day. Still, it shows me that the machinery is still there and operational. I hope to return to the Father Chessman series soon.

Anyway, there’s more to say, but I’m going to cut it here, lest this slip the schedule and end up as a 2021 update instead. Hopefully it won’t be another year before I can update again.