Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Stress

***TL:DR I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Posts will be shorter and I might be doing some repeats. Guest Posts appreciated.***

Hello,

I’ve been a fool. Since February, my work has been fairly busy and regular. It’s a lot of short keys, typing, and mouse work. I’ve been having pain in my hands for a while now.

I wrote about it for the Spoonie Author’s Network. At the time, the Doctor thought it was the same arthritis that was in my big toes. After a year of tests he eliminated that option. We thought it was maybe tendinitis and he sent me to physio.

My prescription for physio was written in February 2020. I didn’t make it. I didn’t want to risk getting my children sick and was experiencing long covid. A few weeks turned into a few months and then a few years.

The pain came and went, but was usually worse when my hands were cold. So I didn’t worry. I kept thinking, “I’ll see my doctor about it when the pandemic is over.”

Fast forward to last November and I noticed my arms getting numb when I slept. (I sleep on my sides and it was the ones that I didn’t sleep on that went numb.) The pain got worse around Christmas, but got better after 2 weeks off.

Then we went into report season at work and I started writing a new book. So my days looked like this: Work 8 hours, Ukulele practice 15-45 minutes, and then 1-2 hours writing, formatting, etc. I’m also the primary diaper changer in the family… so… yeah.

The pain got worse and worse and I just kept thinking, “I’ll see my doctor about it when the pandemic is over.” and, “It’ll get better when I have less clicky work.”

Then Monday, I was told by my bosses that I had to come into the physical building of work. The meeting was tense and I won’t lie, I felt attacked. We’re so close to an infant vaccine for Pegasus… I asked if I could wait until September and they refused. “Isolating is a choice we made. Coming in to work is my responsibility.” That’s a paraphrase, but arg. I’m still angry.

I’m not sure what I did during that meeting to myself, but after, my pain in my arms and hands went from a 5 (Interrupts some activities) to 8 (Hard to do anything) the pain has been fluctuating from 6-8 since.

I made an appointment with my doctor, but he couldn’t see me until a week later. I was in tears as I tried to figure out what to do. I eventually decided to go to the after-hours clinic and saw a wonderful doctor. He diagnosed me with confidence after asking some insightful questions. He gave me two weeks off work, tests for my family doctor, and a prescription for splints to sleep with. Now it’s a waiting game. I’m seeing my doctor next week and so far, after 3-4 days, I’m still in a lot of pain. This post is taking forever to write, but I’m taking lots of breaks.

I’m worried that my reticence to see the doctor will result in permanent damage. It shouldn’t have taken a level 8 pain or my bosses showing how little they care about me to make me listen to my body and get help. The moment the pain started to increase, I should have made appointments.

I didn’t want to let my family down, I didn’t want to let myself down, and I didn’t want to let my work down. It was foolish! Work doesn’t care about me, they never really have, family only want me to be healthy, and I’m more disappointed now than if I had been treated earlier.

Expect this blog to have shorter posts (this took most of a day with breaks). I’ll let you know what happens.

At least I’m getting a lot of snuggles.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Long COVID?

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I swear I’ll get back to writing about writing and how cute my kids are soon.

Two years ago, my family and I went to Disney World. Baby Pegasus, at 7 months, got sick. He had a moderate fever and we were leaving that day.

As I was playing with him, he sneezed into my mouth. Parenting is sooo glamorous.

Sick baby Pegasus lying on the floor asleep

We did what we thought was best and took him home as fast as I we could. At the airport, we gave him crushed up tylenol and hoped for the best.

I started feeling off on the plane. By the time we got home, I had chills, aches, and a fever too. We visited the clinic and the doctor said that both of our lungs were clear and to keep an eye out for trouble breathing. She said, “Even if it’s the new virus, we don’t have the testing to check.”

Jen and Dragon had mild fevers, but nothing else.

The next few days were a blur of pain and half sleep. I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t have the kids snuggle me without pain in my chest. Everything hurt like I’d sprained it. Nothing I’ve ever experienced compared to the amount of constant pain. (Keep in mind that I once needed to have my throat lanced from a blister caused by strep throat.)

I was so weak that I couldn’t make coffee. That sounds like a joke, but I have a point. When I recovered enough to try and restart my normal routine, I started making myself coffee. I didn’t like the taste. It was warm and mildly sweet, but there was nothing else there. I tried to make it stronger and couldn’t tell.

In retrospect, I should have come to the conclusion that I’d caught COVID, but things were stressful and I was going back to work after my parental leave. I assumed I just needed to get my taste for it back. I also remember at that time, that I only really enjoyed salty or spicy food because it was all I could taste.

Father and son knocked out and feeling terrible.

Over the past two years I’ve noticed a few things about myself:

  • I am easily irritable
  • It’s harder to catch my breath
  • I started having trouble sleeping even when exhausted
  • I’m always tired
  • I’m always fatigued
  • I have a harder time concentrating
  • I forget stuff
  • I constantly have a headache

I thought it was the baby not sleeping, the stress of a worldwide pandemic, or returning to work.

Looking back through I see that some of those things have been getting better. I can now taste coffee although it does taste different. Even though it smells the same, it feels like weird Berenstain Bears Effect. The fatigue is getting better. I used to be able to do one thing a day and I’d be wiped. Showering would destroy all my energy and now it’s back to making me feel better.

I still have a lot of the other issues, the fatigue combined with insomnia is hardest to deal with. It makes me hate going to sleep. I also wake up in all kinds of pain.

So… I guess I have long COVID, and according to my doctor, there’s nothing I can do about it. Thankfully I work from home and have an amazing family.

My big worry is if it affected the kids. How the hell do you tell if it affected a 3yo or 7mo? They’ve changed so much that there’s no real way to tell. It seems like they’re fine and I really hope they don’t suffer any long-term effects.

Hopefully, with full vaccination and some common sense we can avoid this happening to them because I’m telling you, it sucks. I feel like I’ve aged twenty years.

Very serious faces from father and Pegasus

When someone tells you, “It’s just a cold” or “We should just get it over with,” they’re wrong. Get vaccinated, wash your hands, wear a mask, and don’t get it if you can avoid it.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

So… Really?

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

So it’s the year 2022… Year three of the pandemic… It’s starting to feel like this is the year that our government and society give up on caring.

That might sound melodramatic, but as of Wednesday January 20th, Ontario has seen 10,801 deaths (According to Ontario Public Health). If you compare the deaths between the 31st of December and the 20th of January there’s a difference of 595. That means in the past 19 days Ontario is averaging 31 deaths a day. If the trend continues, we’re looking at probably doubling the deaths this year.

Yet despite rising hospital admissions and deaths, the government has sent unvaccinated 4 year olds back to school and is reopening indoor dining. It’s hard to believe this government cares about those of us who are considered high risk. (Babies, Kids, Immunocompromised, Fat, etc.)

I understand that I’m an extremist in my belief that human life is more important than money, economy, or other such things. I truly wish our government would do radical things like significantly increase spending on healthcare and education.

January is a hard month for me and for a lot of other people. So it’s hard to be hopeful right now.

My wife and I are extremely lucky and I thank the fates everyday for the privilege and advantages we have been given. I’m still sad for those that aren’t as lucky.

We will get through this and I hope that it’ll be with minimal loss of life and even less long term trauma.

Stay safe and be kind.

As they say in Everdome, “May your fractured nights be followed by glorious dawns.”

Éric

Life Moves Pretty Fast (Sometimes)

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Last Monday, I complained about not being able to get my appointment for a Covid vaccine. I managed to get an appointment for end of June on Tuesday and then Thursday, as I was grocery shopping, I got a notification from the PC Health app that I could get one on Saturday.

So I went from thinking I’d never get one to being worried about getting one to getting one in less than a week. So one shot out of two. I guess we’re 1/8th of the way there for the family. Hopefully by Christmas we’ll be 6/8th.

Book stuff

Great news. Assassins! Accidental Matchmakers, book one in The Gates of Westmeath series, has been submitted to my publisher. We should hear within 3 or so months if they’ll publish it. If they don’t, we’ll start submitting to agents and other publishers. We can worry about that later.

I’m slowly writing Elizabeth 4 and have re-written the outline and hopefully it’ll be finished this decade. Planning for book two of The Gates of Westmeath, Gangs! Incidental Wedding Guests, is well underway. Writing will start end of summer/early fall.

The short story collection is over 80,000 words and I still have 2-4 stories to write. Jen’s been prolific in her short story writing. The collection is called Stories! The Unexpected First Collection.

Like I mentioned on Friday, this coming Saturday is the cover reveal for my newest book, Stories Between the ‘Verses. Come check it out on Saturday! There will be prizes and readings.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Please, sir, I want some vaccine

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

The Ontario government said that this week (Week of May 17) the over 30 year olds would be able to book their vaccine.

Unlike most responsible people, I tried first thing at 7am after rolling out of bed. No coffee, no breakfast, not even my morning washroom usage.

Things went fantastically well. (I should have known it was too easy.) I booked an appointment for me and then I tried to book for my wife. She’s only 1.5 years younger so it should have been just as easy… right?

Nope.

She wasn’t eligible. So I tried my info again and I wasn’t eligible.

So now I had an appointment when I wasn’t supposed to and couldn’t get one for my wife.

What do I do? I called the provincial hotline. They were closed. I waited until they were supposed to be open. Sat through 5 minutes of information, pressed the buttons, was put on hold and the system hung up on me. It happened twice more and then I got to talk to a person.

The nice man at the call centre didn’t know how I got an appointment; we think I clicked something that I shouldn’t have. So he cancelled my appointment. I asked when I’d be eligible and he said he didn’t know.

Now I have no appointment and spent a stressful morning.

I’m sure this isn’t an indication of how the rest of the week will go. (Why do I hear boss music?)

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

My Kids are cute…

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

My kids are so freaking cute. Seriously look at this:

I’m not boasting, I’m trying to remind myself.

Pegasus is teething his second set of molars so that means more wake-ups and lots of screaming. Dragon is not dealing well with the lack of routine during March break… Basically the two of them have been screaming and being difficult.

I have a headache, Jen has a headache, the kids ache, and I think we’re all looking forward to getting back to a “regular” routine. Normally, I’d have taken them to the park or shopping or maybe even to a museum but *shrugs* Covid.

Next week, I turn back on my work computer, Dragon and Jen go back to doing school and Pegasus goes back to climbing me and trying to help with my work. It sounds soothing and exausting.

This will pass, every day Pegasus starts to talk more and by Christmas we’ll have mini sentences. Dragon is learning more and more words, letters, and sounds. I wouldn’t be surprised if by this time next year she’s reading. That’ll be nice.

My kids are loud, they are very touchy, and those are things I’ll miss, but sometimes it’s all a little too much. It’s important to remember that they are adorable and I love them lots and lots.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Dear Pegasus – Park, play, and pandemic

Dear Pegasus,

You’ve now spent a year in quarantine (about 60% of your life). By the time you read this, we should have a better idea if we were overprotective or justifiably cautious.

We’re lucky in that mum’s job is extra slow since no one wants to travel in a pandemic (except politicians), so she can help your sister with homeschooling. I hope we don’t have to worry about your first year like this.

Today mum suggested that you pretend to bring the dollhouse people to their park. You looked at her confused and when she asked if you knew what the park was, you just shook your head.

It makes me sad that you didn’t get the chance to do the things your sister did. I makes me feel guilty that you’re not getting as much attention as we’d hoped.

In a perfect world, Dragon was supposed to be at school this year and you were going to get the majority of mum’s attention. It didn’t work that way and now mum spends most of the day in the basement for Dragon’s school and you spend the day with me. I deal with a lot of the house stuff, this blog (although mum is supplying her half of the content), coffee things, writing, oh, and my full time job. I’m lucky that I can work from home, but it means you spend a lot of time playing on your own or sitting in on work meetings.

An Angry Pegasus. I get this face when I get coffee or do work.

I feel bad that we don’t have the energy and time to dedicate to you that we did your sister. I feel bad that you haven’t seen another kid in person since you were eight months old. I have no idea what this will do in the long term. I’m hoping that you’ll bounce back once everyone (including you) are vaccinated. (I’m hoping Keladry will be okay going into first grade full time. Maybe even the second semester of senior kindergarten.)

I’m sorry for the things you’ve missed, but I am not sorry that you haven’t contracted the virus or the side effects (even if they are rare) that come with it.

Life has been very different for you this year compared to before where you did 3 cons, a trip to Disney, and a lot of social activities. This coming year will probably be similar, but the year after holds hope for us.

To steal the 2020 word of the year, these are unprecedented times, and we’re all doing our best.

My pillow is very wiggly.

One of the good things that this year has brought is the extra time we’ve had together.

I love you little Pegasus,

Your worried Papa

Ups and Downs

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’m having a hard week. Winter feels interminable, we’re at the start of the third wave, vaccines are being distributed by a disorganized Flash (from Zootopia, not DC), and people are starting to discuss the possibility that maybe under 10 years of age kids don’t need a vaccine. Thankfully the medical community is pushing for it, but without public and government pushing, how long will it be?

I’m not comfortable exposing my children to Covid. Even though the chances are low that they get any serious side effects, I’m not willing to risk it.

Quarantine has its ups and downs; I’m currently experiencing a down. It’s been a hard week preceded by a hard weekend. Right now I want to curl into a ball and binge-watch Stargate SG1.

With time and patience it’ll get better, but right now I’m angry, frustrated, and just tired. I look forward to watching this thing (gestures around wildly at everything) from the future and being glad it’s over.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go make myself another coffee and hope it wakes me up and de-grumps me.

Enjoy this adorable picture of Pegasus stuck inside a chair.

Picture of the almost 20 month Pegasus stuck in a patio chair and giving me an annoyed look.
The chair is a metaphor…

Be safe and be kind,

Éric

Do you live in fear?

Hello Readers,

Let me me start by saying I’m tired. Tired of people being jackasses to each other and then turning around and blaming someone else.

I’ve been accused of living in fear for the past six months. Apparently being afraid of a virus that has killed nearly 3/4 of a million people and following health and safety guidelines is living in fear.

Fear is a natural reaction, it’s an instinct that keeps us alive. Fear isn’t a bad thing. I can hear the embodiment of internet comment sections sections screaming, “BUT IT CONTROLS YOU!” Fear can be used to control, and yes it can go to unhealthy levels, but self isolating, wearing a mask, and avoiding risky behaviour is not unhealthy (it’s the opposite).

Tempting… https://leasticoulddo.com/comic/20200813

I understand that some people have legitimate reasons to not wear a mask, that’s fine and I’ll never challenge someone who isn’t wearing one, but I’ll give them a wide berth. However, if you’re refusing to wear a mask on principle, you are being selfish, inconsiderate, and ridiculous. What’s the worst that happens? You do something in hopes that it’ll benefit others and it doesn’t work?

More recently I’m seeing a lot of memes about how more children are stolen and sold than died of Covid, or how this one kid died because someone shot him but it’s not getting the same media attention.

One travesty doesn’t mean another isn’t important. People can, and do care about more than one thing. It’s unfair and reductive to compare them. Only a fool says “Car accidents kill more people than cancer.” Same applies here.

In an article in Science Mag, they describe the “sheer breadth of complications linked to COVID-19 is mind-boggling“. Over and over again, science has said that this virus is dangerous and I will treat it that way.

Another argument that’s been passing around is that “the flu kills people every year, should we take the same precautions for it?” My answer is yes. Wear a mask during flu season or if you feel sick. If you have a choice, don’t go to work sick. We should be pushing for mandatory sick days.

We as a society need to overcome the foolish notion that taking sick days is a sign of weakness or laziness.

Wear a mask, wash your hands, and be safe,

Éric

The State of my Writing

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’ve been home since June 2019 and the day to day routine of family, house, freelance, etc. haven’t lent themselves to writing much. Now since March I’ve also been working from home for my day job and things haven’t improved on that front. I’ve managed to write the serial stories and a little bit in two novels.

Me trying to write when only 1 of the kids is awake.

More and more it’s looking like I’m not going to make my self-imposed deadline of September for the next Elizabeth book. This will probably mean I’ll break my yearly publishing streak. I have a contract for 2021 but no book for 2022 and I’m pretty sure if I don’t submit a novel by end of year my publisher will be out of release spots (if they aren’t already).

Imposter Syndrome by Fowl Language comics

It feels like failure. I hate how much I’m struggling. I’m not struggling with the story or the writing, but with finding time to write. It takes me a little while to get into the zone and I can’t stand writing for only 15 minutes. I have to find a way to give myself the time. As the pandemic becomes normal and we start homeschooling, I’m hoping I’ll find a spot in my busy schedule.

I’m not looking for advice, just wanted to complain. I know it’s a common problem with us writer types and despite the voice yelling at me to give up and that its proof I suck, I’ll get back to it. I always do. Writing is part of me and I love doing it; I’d do it even if I couldn’t publish. I just have to remember that and find the time to enjoy doing it.

If you’d like to lift my spirits please feel free to order one of my books from the publisher, your favourite ebook store, or my website.

If you want to make me giddy with happiness leave a review on those sites and Goodreads.

Thank you for all your support and I hope your creative juices flow… well that sounded dirty.

Good luck and stay safe,

Éric