The State of Éric – November 2023

Hello Family, Friendns, and Fans,

A lot of stuff is happening so let’s do this rapidfire:

Queer Christmas Craft Fair

As we mentioned in a previous post, we’ll be at Queer Christmas Craft Fair tomorrow (Saturday November 25th) from 10-2. Come get your coffee!!!


Jen and I are writing the next book in The Gates of Westmeath series and it’s awesome. The only thing keeping me from binge writing right now is that we’re doing the first pass at editing Monsters! Incidental Wedding Guests (Coming June 2024). As much as I love writing, I despise editing. Like everything else in the writing process, it’s much easier to do with Jen.

Renaissance has Copper Tarnish, Stories! The First Unexpected Collection, and Faymous and I will hopefully hear in the new year if they’ll publish or pass.


I’ve been acting (in government that means I’m doing the job but it’s not permanent) at a higher level as a Web Accessibility specialist. It’s pretty much an evolution of my old job as print and PDFs fall out of favour, but it’s a promotion.

This week I signed my papers to make it permanent. It’s better pay and duties that are no longer 10 years antiquated. So yay!


I’ve seen a neuro-opthamologist and had lots of tests including another MRI. Everything came back clean except for a loss of vision in my left eye and the fact that my left eye dilated slower than my right. He thinks I had some sort of nerve issue and he’s sending me to a neurologist and has set up a follow up for June.

Yay nothing serious and that he believes me but boo I didn’t get any answers.

That’s about it now.

Stay safe and be kind,


Health Update November 2023


It’s been a year now since I returned to work and a year and a half since I hurt my arms.

Good News

My arms are staying steady. They almost always hurt, but not enough to affect my quality of life much. I’m mostly doing my exercises and massages and it’s helping. Some days are worse than others, but overall significantly better than I was this time last year. Maybe it was muscle strain and stress.

My doctor sent me to get an MRI. The MRI showed no signs of brain cancer or Multiple Sclerosis. Which is a good thing.

Bad News

The MRI did show something on my left ocular nerve. Combined with the numbness in my face, loss of vision in my left eye, left temple migraine, and vertigo; the doctor made a referral to a neuro-opthamologist with the eye institute.

I had my first set of tests today and will have more in the coming months. They also want to do a targeted MRI for the ocular nerve.

At least they believe me and are trying to figure out what’s wrong.

That’s about all I have, I hope your health improves or stays awesome!


Health Update – July 2023

Hello family, friends, and fans,

In short, my health is improving but not awesome.


First lets address the bowel issues.

In June I said:

My mysterious illness where I have bowel cramps, fever, aches and pains, and weakness; came back again. I think it might be allergy and / or overdoing it related. I’m not sure. I went to the ER in 2018 for it and they found nothing, I saw my family doctor and he did blood and feces testing and he found nothing, I saw a virtual doctor and he told me I was fat. My family doctor said we’d deal with it if it happens often, but I’m not sure what that can be defined as. It only happens once or twice a year.

That came back and hit me like a truck. Some of the worst pain I’ve had since COVID, hard to breathe, fatigue, aches and pains everywhere, fever of 102-103F, and mind fog. It hit me on the Monday night of last week and I’m still dealing with the fatigue and some minor bowel issues.

I still think it’s a combination of allergies and stress. I had hung out with a few cats, outdoors, and I also went swiming (I have had mild allergies to bromine and chlorine since I was a kid.) My google-ing (yeah I know google isn’t a doctor) seems to think it’s my body thinking I ate allergens and going extra and attacking.


As I mentioned in my June Update, I’ve been doing physio with the Ottawa Workers Network, through WSIB. In June, I said my pain was at 6-7 out of 10. I’d say it’s closer to a 5-6 now. I’m hoping the change is because of treatment and not just because I’ve been off more than working the past few weeks.

I’d say that for the past month my pain is ever-present but manageable. Which was the WSIBs goal.

I had my last treatment and assessment on Tuesday. I’ll have a follow up on Monday to talk to the elbow/shoulder surgeon and it’s expected I’ll be discharged and cleared for a full work schedule.

The numbness in my arms has gone down but isn’t gone completely.

The numbness in my face has gotten worse.

The vision in my left eye is about the same,, but I’m getting more shadows and having a hard time with my night vision from that eye.

I’m still getting dizzy spells that feel like vertigo. Like the whole world tilts sideways.


My Occupational Therapist says that the clumsiness is due to the injury screwing over my spacial perception.

As for the inability to know how much I’m gripping and dropping things, she says it’s a combination of that and a side effect of my mild carpal tunnel.


I have an MRI today in Kingston and hopefully it’ll help figure out what the problem is. I hope it’s clear, but I also want to know.

Overall AKA TL:DR

I’m doing a little better but I’m worried about the root cause. MRI should help eliminate the worst case scenarios.

Stay safe and be kind,


Health Update June 2023

Hello family, friends, and fans,

A lot and very little has happened since my April update.

Let’s start with good news. I have a date for my MRI on July 14th. I also have a date to go with (Jen will be driving me. With two kids you must take whatever you can as a date.)

What’s Going on with Treatment

It looks like my time with the OWN treatment team will be ending in mid July. I’ve been doing exercises to strengthen the muscles, physiotherapy to loosen the muscles, and some therapy to think about muscles.

The therapy has been helping the most, stress relief and permission to be selfish and self care are good. I’ve also been given some techniques to control my emotional spirals and overreactions.

The exercises and physio have been maybe helping. I have better control of my fine motor skills and my physio says my muscles are looser. They’re going to give me a home routine.

We’re also working towards getting me back to full time work instead of my old schedule of 30 minutes on and 30 minutes off.

How am I Feeling

My pain is steady. That sounds bad, but it’s actually a good thing. I’m not experiencing any massive flares. I’m still at a 6-7 pain level, but no more jumping to 8 and feeling sick.

The numbness in my arms, hands, and face are still there and haven’t changed. The vision problems I’m having with my left eye are still there. I’ve had a couple of really scary vertigo episodes where it felt like the entire planet shifted 90 degrees. Not fun.

My mysterious illness where I have bowel cramps, fever, aches and pains, and weakness; came back again. I think it might be allergy and / or overdoing it related. I’m not sure. I went to the ER in 2018 for it and they found nothing, I saw my family doctor and he did blood and feces testing and he found nothing, I saw a virtual doctor and he told me I was fat. My family doctor said we’d deal with it if it happens often, but I’m not sure what that can be defined as. It only happens once or twice a year.

Now we wait and see what the MRI says. WSIB will be washing their hands of me in July and I’ll be doing what I can to manage the pain. They say that my body is reacting well and that the pain will reduce over time. I hope they’re right.

Stay safe and be kind,


Random Updates from Éric

Hello family, friends, and fans,

Some weeks are hard. This was one of those weeks. I’ve been working through a lot of emotions. Among them is the fact that I’m still in pain. I know that a new physio for two weeks isn’t going to fix everything, but I was secretly hoping.

Let’s break this down into categories:


I’m currently finishing the longest running project I’ve ever had (started in 2016) and I’m really hoping to be done by summer. It’s going slowly, mostly because of pain, and I worry it’s crap but at least I’m having fun writing it.

Family Life

I’m trying my best to be a good father and a good husband. I know that I haven’t always been perfect; I’m a little whiny and I over explain and analyze everything but I’m trying. This week I’ve felt like I’m not enough and that’s really frustrating.


I have a similar issue at work. I think it’s time for me to find something new. I’m fairly certain that within a year, my position will be cut and after 15 years, it’s time to do something new. The problem with that is because of my health issues and lack of return to full time work, it’s not easy for me to convince anyone to hire me. So I feel a little trapped.


I’m seeing a team consisting of a physiotherapist, kinesiologist, and occupational therapist. They are trying to help me get back to work.

While they’re doing that, I have an MRI for my head, neck, and back set up for mid July.


My father’s birthday was earlier this month. He passed away at the age of 47 from brain cancer.

He was 40 when he was diagnosed. Considering my health issues, it’s hard for me not to worry about this year. (I’m turning 40 in July.)

It’s one of the reasons I’m really glad that I got that MRI. At the very least we’ll know something. The MRI should be able to detect brain lesions from MS or brain tumours. Hopefully there’s nothing to find.

Mental Health

With all of the above I’m struggling, but my occupational therapist is helping me find coping mechanisms and to rationalize instead of spiralling. That part is helping and I’m trying to be kind to myself.

How have you been?

Be kind and stay safe,


Health Update 2 Steps forward 1 back

Hello Everyone,

Since my last update I’ve started physio, exercises, and occupational therapy. It’s only been a week, but it feels like a lot of effort for little gain. I’m going to continue because at least it’s completely covered by WSIB. The people are nice but everything feels fast.

I saw a pain doctor. He was rushed and said I should continue what I’m doing and gave me some exercises that are the same as the kinesiologist has been doing. I’m glad he didn’t give me any pills. I’m already dealing with a lot of mind fog, I don’t want to deal with any more.

I had called my doctor to try and talk to him about MS and I managed to get an appointment. He said I had a lot of the symptoms but that the neurologist should have caught it. (Same guy who told me I was too young and should just ignore it.) However since I have the symptoms he has referred me to get an MRI. It’ll image my brain, neck, and back to make sure. This should help diagnose MS or any form of cancer.

My father died of brain cancer and my grandmother of leukemia, so I’m trying not to panic at the idea.

Reality Sucks, or Yes, I am disabled

I’m starting to come to the realization that I’m disabled.

My energy levels, lung capacity, and overall strength have never fully recovered from covid in February 2020. I’m told it’ll get better, but it’s a slow process.

Add to that the dizziness and fatigue I’ve been feeling since last year and it means I’m not in good shape or feeling well. In short, I’m disabled.

It’s frustrating me because I am physically able to do almost anything I need to but I start getting tired and pained quickly. If I push myself too far, I start to get dizzy and clumsy. Just setting up my backyard, with lots of help from the kids, left me feeling horrible for two days after. Headache, inability to think, pain everywhere, short of breath, fatigue, and extra pain in my arms.

I’ve been experiencing something similar with picketing but that’s a different post.

Accepting that I’m disabled means I need to start finding my limits and living inside them. Once I know what’s wrong, I can hopefully work up to increasing activity. For now, I’ll have to be extra careful with gardening.

So that’s my update, it’s all over the place but I’m okay and things are moving. Let’s hope it’s in the right direction.


Top 5 Things I wish I’d Known When I Started Working

Hello My Imaginary and Fans,

Hold on to your hats… I am not a full time author. I wish I were or that I was independently wealthy, but nope I work. Currently I work in the government as a Desktop Publisher, which is a sort of typesetter meets webmaster. On the side, I run a coffee business and do freelance typesetting.

I’ve also worked as: Bricklayer, Babysitter, LCBO Clerk, Convenience Store Clerk, Office Assistant, Typesetter, Tour Guide, Radio Host, Boat Captain, Independent Producer and Director, Computer Lab Assistant, Secretary, Black Jack Croupier, Webmaster, Technical-Manual Writer, Media Monitor, Administrative Assistant, Pamphlet Distributor, Convenience Store Night Manager, Desktop Manager, Phone Survey Operator, Editor, Video Editor, and Battle of the Bands Judge. (Full disclosure my memory isn’t what it used to be so I might have forgotten some.) That’s just my paying jobs not my volunteer work or things I did for fun.

It’s safe to say that over the past quarter decade, that I’ve had a lot of jobs and a lot of bosses. There are some things I wish I had known when I was young and impressionable.

5. Your boss isn’t your friend

This has been really hard for me to internalize. With very few exceptions, bosses are tools of the company and will have to do what the company says. Some are reluctant, some skirt the rules, and some take pride in being assholes.

Most bosses will put themselves and the company ahead of the employees. That’s just the way of things. It doesn’t mean they’re bad people or that they are trying to hurt you, but they are not your friend.

The best bosses do care, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be nice or reasonable when the company tells them to do something.

You can have a great boss that has swallowed the company line so thoroughly that they can’t even see how toxic it can be.

4. You are replaceable

You might be the best a your job. You might be so good they give you praise and say, “What would we ever do without you?” In the end, you are completely replaceable. Everyone is. That’s how our businesses are made, they are designed to survive.

Don’t stay with a job or not take days off because they tell you that you can’t be replaced. That’s either bullshit or they are terrible at their jobs.

3. A performance is more important than your performance

You are hired to do a job. Do it and try to do it well, but that doesn’t mean you owe anyone more than that.

That being said, if you want to climb the ladder you need to say, do, and act the way they want you to. It’s different in each workplace, but performing the song and dance is the best way to get ahead and it rarely has to do with how good you are at your job.

2. Use the benefits/rights you have

If you have sick days and you are sick, use them. Use your vacation days. Use your health benefits. Use parental leave. Whatever the company has been forced to give you, use them when you need them and DON’T FEEL GUILTY.

Those are your days. If they can’t live without you, it’s their fault, not yours. Don’t let your employer make you feel bad for it.

Research the laws around work in your region, look up the safety rules and laws, and don’t let your bosses tell you to ignore them.

Your health is more important than your job!

1. Have pride in what you do (even if no one cares)

There are a hundred things I do to make sure my work is the best it can be and I have come to realize that it really doesn’t matter if no one cares because I do.

Do your work to the best of your ability, but don’t expect recognition. If you get it, great, but if you’re going to survive the capitalist dystopia that is our world, you have to find joy and pride in your work. Otherwise it’ll get really boring and make you angry and bitter.

Just to be clear, bosses are not clients and clients are not bosses.

And of course #NotAllMenBosses

Stay safe and be kind,


Health Update April 2023

Hello Friends, family, and fans;

As I mentioned in March, I did the nerve conduction test with a very condescending neurologist.

Yesterday I had an appointment at the speciality clinic. My very nice occupational therapist (OT) went through a bunch of questions and asked me about a bunch of things. She then did some physical tests and went off to talk to the doctor.

I told her I was worried about the vision problems and the numbness in my face and my worries about MS. She said she’d talk to the doctor. She also said that that was normally something a family doctor dealt with and not them. They are concentrating on the neurologist’s conclusion that it’s muscular.

The doctor came in and asked me more questions and then asked, “What is bothering you more.” I told him it was the pain that bothered me more, but the face that scared me more. His reply was, “Okay then. Let’s focus on the pain.”

So the plan now is to have me see a doctor that specializes in pain and put me with a group consisting of a physiotherapist, a therapist, and my OT. They’ll run special rehab and physio for me two or three times a week. I’m kinda happy about that, since it’ll save us some money on physio that is only covered 80% usually.

I’ll be honest, I’m a little underwhelmed. It’s been 10 months of this and I haven’t had an x-ray or any other tests on the part of my arms that hurt. I’ve had one type of test, no imaging, and this feels very flimsy as a diagnosis. (Is it wrong that I want something definitive?)

The clinic people are really nice and I think they have my best interests at heart, but I feel like they’re focussed on getting me back to work and not really figuring out what’s wrong with me.

I asked again about MS and the OT said that if there had been any signs, the neurologist would have noticed and that the doctor is trusting that. It’s not very comforting, but I’ll have to trust them for now.

I doubt the balance issues, clumsiness, brain fog, trouble sleeping, numbness in my face, and vision issues are due to muscular issues in my arms. I’ll do what they say (I don’t have much choice) and hope it helps, but I’m not convinced. If this doesn’t help, I’ll have to try and see if my family doctor is willing to run a parallel investigation (if he hasn’t fully retired by then).

It’s been a hard week. Glad it’s over and now I can enjoy spending time with my family over the long weekend.

Stay safe and be kind,


Health Update March 2023


It’s been almost two months since I updated you. It hasn’t been a particularly enlightening two months.

I did finally get an appointment for the specialty clinic. That appointment went well; I have an awesome occupational therapist and doctor who are in charge of my case. The doctor, unfortunately, is an elbow surgeon who’s not quite sure why WSIB has referred me to him, but he’s willing to send me to specialists and tests.

They sent me to a Neurologist. I was really excited to finally see one. He did the exact same test that the carpal tunnel doctor did back in August. He says I have a little bit of carpel tunnel in my wrists, but that shouldn’t be bothering me. There’s no indication that my nerves are damaged or that they’ve had any issues at all.

He ended the exam saying that I was too young to worry about it and that if it were up to him he’d say to forget all this WSIB stuff and just go back to my normal routine and then added that the whole thing was ridiculous.

When I asked him about the numbness in my face he said, “That’s nothing. Ignore it.”

I was disheartened and angry. I’m not sure if he thought I was faking or that I was exaggerating my pain, but it was really condescending.

The nice elbow doctor and occupational therapist had scheduled an MRI for my neck, but with the Neurologist saying that I don’t have any nerve damage, they canceled it.

The downside to the clinic is that I only get appointments every 6 weeks. My next one is early April and hopefully they won’t be as dismissive as the Neurologist.

Unfortunately, I’m still in a lot of pain and it’s not getting better. My face is still numb and it aches a little when I work too long. I also find the vision in my left eye gets worse when I overdo it.

Between the pain, the clumsiness, and the numbness in my face, I’m starting to suspect MS. When I had an optometrist appointment in December, he said he couldn’t get my left eye to be as clear. I asked him about the numbness and that I sometimes got blurry vision in my left eye. He said that it couldn’t be nerves and that it’s possibly a side effect of fatigue. He said the only thing he knew that would affect my eye and not be seen in his tests was MS.

I’d hoped the Neurologist would have been able to test for that, but he didn’t.

MS is a scary prospect, but I’d rather find out than not know. There are plenty of other options; Fibromyalgia, Myofascial Pain Syndrome, and some much scarier, like ALS or cancer.

So a lot happened, but nothing new was discovered. Let’s hope this is just another step to figuring it out.

Stay safe and be kind,


Finally Finished Something

Hello Readers,

Last year, before my pain became too worrisome, Jen and I wrote a book called Faymous. While writing it, we added a character who showed up in flashbacks. The further along we went, the sillier her actions became, each of us adding every flashback.

The idea was that I’d write a short story at the end that would explain everything that had happened with the character, but then pain and worry about hurting myself got in the way.

I wrote it slowly, 200-500 words a session, writing 15 minutes here and there.

I was told by my occupational therapist that I could write a little more as long as I took breaks and listened to my pain levels.

So after ten months and almost 7000 words, I finally finished the story. It’s called New Year’s Eve… on repeat, and it’s another time loop, because I apparently like the challenge.

It was fun to pull together all the threads that we’d randomly spread through the novel.

We’ve received three very nice rejections for Faymous. That means I have no idea when it’ll be published, but I’ll let you know.

We are looking for beta readers. If you’re interested, let us know!

Thank you for reading,