Medical Crises Suck

First off, everyone is more-or-less okay.

A week ago today, I got a call from my mother that she was in the emergency room with my father. He’d fallen while getting things ready in the truck for a camping trip they were planning to take this week. After a CAT scan or two, they found that he’d fractured his temporal bone and given himself a nasty concussion.

He was banged up, but the biggest concern was the bleeding in the brain. Bleeding that wasn’t helped by the fact that he’d taken asprin (a blood thinner) earlier in the day. They weren’t sure whether they’d have to operate.

Thankfully, with clotting drugs and blood pressure meds and a transfusion of platelets, they got the bleeding under control. He ended up staying about 3-4 days in the neuro ICU and another day or so in a neuro step-down room before coming home.

I wasn’t able to visit while he was in the hospital, but I’ve gone over pretty much every day since he came home. Physically, he’s in a fair amount of pain, as well as dealing with the weakness that comes after being stuck in a hospital bed for close to a week. Mentally, he seems to be much more himself than he was when I talked to him on the phone a week ago. But it’s going to take a while to bounce back from this.

All of which is to say, if you’ve been expecting an email or phone call or anything like that from me, just know that I’m running a bit more behind than usual.

As scary as the past week has been, we all recognize that it could have been much, much worse. So I think we’re trying to focus on the gratitude side of things.


COVID Numbers and Priorities

“I don’t know how to explain to you why you should care about other people.”
-Lauren Morrill

Here in the U.S., we’ve reached the point that 1 in 500 Americans have died of COVID.

Reading the responses to this news has been enlightening. Some people have immediately pointed out that 1 in 500 is only 0.2%. Others responded that 0.2% of the U.S. population is roughly 660,000 dead.

All of which is correct. But while the mathematics are equivalent, they don’t necessarily suggest the same thing.

The 0.2% figure is the chance, all else being equal, of you as an individual dying of COVID. If your focus is on your individual safety, then 0.2% looks like pretty good odds. Of course, everything else isn’t equal. Some states have higher COVID rates than others. Some people have more risk factors. (By the way, one of the biggest risk factors these days is being unvaccinated. I’m just saying…)

The 660,000+ number, on the other hand, is about the damage this virus has done to us as a country. COVID has killed far more Americans than died in World War II. It’s killed more than the entire population of Vermont. From a community standpoint, COVID has been devastating.

And this doesn’t even touch on the roughly 10% of people who contract long COVID, meaning they’ll have long-term health consequences from this disease.

Now, I’m glad that the odds of me personally dying of COVID are relatively low. But when I see people focusing exclusively on that 0.2% figure as a way to attack COVID precautions, well, it makes it very clear who those people really care about, and who they don’t.


We All Have 24 Hours in Each Day...

One of the questions I hear a lot is about finding the time to write. My process has varied over the past 25 years. During my undergrad years, I’d write in the evenings. When I started working for the State, I wrote during my lunch hour each day, along with whatever I could squeeze in during evenings and weekends. When Amy was sick, I basically stopped writing for close to a year.

I usually say it’s about priorities and choices. We all have 24 hours in a day. It’s up to us to choose how to use them.

That doesn’t mean we all have the same opportunity to write, or that we could all write three books a year if we just made the “right” choices and set better priorities, because some of those priorities are pretty much non-negotiable.

Let’s say, for instance, you’re a full-time single parent. You’ve going to have a baseline minimum amount of time each day that you’re taking care of the kid(s), keeping the house from getting too gross, running errands, and so on.

Or maybe you have a chronic illness or disability. That could mean you have to spend a certain amount of time on self-care just in order to function for the rest of your day.

Do you have a full-time job? Multiple jobs? Do you have your own car, or are you taking public transportation (which may or may not be conducive to writing) every day? Are you the primary caretaker for a parent or other aging relative?

In other words, yes, we all have 24 hours a day to work with. But we don’t all have the same flexibility in how we use those 24 hours.

Making time to write is still a choice. Maybe all you can manage is a couple of 30-minute stints each week. Maybe you have a spouse with a great full-time job, freeing up at least 8 hours a day (theoretically) for you to write.

I’ve been struggling more for the past two years, and I get frustrated because I don’t feel like I’m making as much time to write as I used to. But I don’t have the same flexibility I used to have, either. I have to remember it’s not fair to compare myself and my productivity to that of other writers, all of whom have different demands on their time.

It’s not even fair to compare myself to the me of three years ago.

So I make the best choices I can, the same as always. I try to prioritize, which means some things just don’t get done. That’s the main reason blogging has been so sparse for a while, compared to pre-2019 levels.

Decide what’s important, and do the best you can. And you know what? Self-care is important too. Down time is important. Time spent with friends and family is important. Taking the afternoon to go see The Suicide Squad with friends isn’t a betrayal of your writing dreams.

Now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, and having done dishes and finished a load of laundry and cleaned up the dog’s bloody wart and tracked down that thing my daughter wanted for her apartment, I’m going to go see if I can finish another scene on the Project K rewrite.