Health Update April 2024

Hello Friends, Family, and Fans;

I haven’t written an update since January because I’m still waiting on some results. However, there are some things I can tell you.

How’s my body doing

Heart

I wore a heart monitor for three days and despite what the RSV did while I was sick, my heart is back to normal. My heart rate is still a little high but within normal ranges.

Arms

My arms still hurt, pretty much all the time, but it’s manageable with exercise and stretching. I’ve only needed to put muscle cream on my arms once this year.

Face and left eye

Still numb and still having vision issues. It gets worse if I spend a lot of time concentrating or sitting in a computer chair.

Tests

MRI

I did an MRI of my head, neck, and back. I have an appointment with the neuro-etymologist in June. He might talk to me about it or I might have to wait for the MS doctor in July.

I saw the results but it’s in Medical-jargon and I’m not sure. It seems that there’s a UBO (Unidentified bright object) behind my left eye but according to the internet that could be a bug in the test.

It also say that I have no sign of, “demyelinating disease”.

Lastly it says that I have, “Multilevel degenerative changes within the cervical spine causing various degrees of spinal canal foraminal stenosis, worse at the c5-c6.” Which the internet tells me is a “narrowing that happens in certain places around the nerves that come out of your spinal cord”.

But again, this is my quick googling and not anything official from a doctor.

Vision Tests

I have a few repeat tests for eyes in June and a few to test for MS (unscheduled – doctor wanted to see MRI first).

Allergies

I have bad allergies. In 2007 I woke up feeling super weak and forced myself out of bed. The exertion burst the veins in my eyes. I got an appointment with an allergist and was tested and put on shots. They really helped.

After 5 years, I was told that they wouldn’t help me more and that if my symptoms worsened after 5 years to come see the allergist again.

In 2019, my allergies got really bad and I started getting what I call Allergy Attacks. My bowels cramp, and I get weak, and it takes about a week to recover. I didn’t realize it was allergies that caused it until last year.

I really felt it in 2020 but pushed it off.

I finally broke two weeks ago and contacted my allergist. Unfortunately after 10 years you need a new referral.

Long story short, I have an appointment with my family doctor on Wednesday to talk about allergies.

Colds

Last, and certainly most frustrating, are head colds. I’ve now had 4 since January and I’m pretty tired of blowing my nose and coughing.

I feel better today then I have in a while but I’m still sniffling and coughing. The whole thing is made worse combined with allergies. (And no, going outside and eating dirt will not help strengthen my immune system.)

Conclusion

I’m doing okay and I have leads to what might be wrong with me. Hopefully the doctors can narrow it down and I can start treating whatever it is to make sure it doesn’t get worse.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

I had a near death experience and it changed…

Hello Friends, Family, and Fans;

I’m feeling much better and all my doctor’s appointments have gone well. I still have heart, brain, eye, and various other tests to go through, but besides that I’m good.

I was told on December 8th that if I had waited before going to the hospital, I would have either had a stroke or a heart attack. Effectively, I was one bad decision away from death.

In case you weren’t following, I was hospitalized on December 8th with an extremely high heart rate and irregular heartbeat due to a really bad case of RSV. I had been sick for five days and was dehydrated, malnourished, and had developed mild pneumonia. I had trouble breathing and was coughing up quarter-sized chunks of cranberry-red gunk.

As I lay there waiting for the medication to control my heart or for death to take me, I thought to myself that this was a pivotal moment, I would never be the same. Because, that’s what happens… right?

I wish I could say I had some great epiphany about life, the universe, and everything, but I didn’t. Sure I longed to hug my wife and children, I wanted to write more, and I was sad at all the things I might miss in my family (blood and found), but none of that is new or revelatory.

I knew I had a good life and wonderful people in it before I got sick and I still know it after. Despite some physical and mental health issues, I’m a lucky man.

One big thing I need to say is how touched I am by all my friends and family who reached out to Jen and offered to help. I knew I had awesome people in my life, but I was still surprised by how awesome (and that was just a few that knew what was happening).

I guess in the end, I had a near death experience and it changed very little, but helped me appreciate the life, family, and friends that I have.

Thank you!

Be kind and stay safe,

Éric

First week at work

Hello,

I was worried about going back to work. I’m not sure why, I think it was just because I was feeling fatigued and low energy. I had nothing to worry about, my manager is super understanding and I still remember what I’m doing. Two things that made this much less stressful then it could have been.

It also helps that everyone else took some vacation over December so my projects were slowed down.

I took my last dose of the heart pills Wednesday morning and spent yesterday compulsively checking my heart rate on my phone. It was a little elevated (maybe from me stressing about it?) but still within the norm.

Overall, it’s been a good week. Let’s hope today continues the trend.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

I’m scared but I have hope

Hello Friends, Family, and Fans,

I’m back at work today, Dragon goes back to school, and life restarts after an extended break.

As I write this, I just finished reading the comments section on a Facebook post from Ottawa Public Health. I see in the comments a combination of anger and fear that is extremely familiar. Those that aren’t fake are people trying to come to terms with a world that seems to be falling apart. I understand the anger, I understand the frustration, and I understand the helplessness.

Unfortunately, we are in the golden age of cults. Yes, cults. From Dictionary.com, “An instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers”.

Cults used to need to isolate and cut people off from their support systems in order to take advantage of them. In our curated digital world, it’s easy to find oneself isolated into specific communities with extreme ideas. My tik-tok is heavily queer, neurodivergent, writerly, and ttrpg based with a smattering of food and nutrition. I doubt that’s others’ experiences.

What this means is that we’re seeing more polarization and more us-vs-them and a lot more confusion. When everyone around you says the same thing and suddenly others are saying differently, it’s jarring and a little scary.

It’s a form of Cognitive Dissonance. That gut instinct of “am I wrong?” followed by either doubling down on your beliefs or challenging them. Unfortunately, there’s a lot more doubling down, especially when you are scared.

Basically, what I’m saying is that social media is a grade school rumour mill taken to the extreme. What that means for humanity is still to be decided.

No matter how hard it is to see, there is hope. Change is slow, social change doubly so. But every generation pushes it further. For every cult leader out there, there are people working to debunk their lies. For every 10-50 hate-filled comment, there are real people sharing their truths.

Hope in and of itself is powerful, with hope we can find the good. Without it we are lost.

What we can do is hard and doesn’t always work, but we can be kind. We can help those in need. We can tell the stories that need to be told. We can defend those who need it. And most of all, we can question everything.

That’s enough rambling from me.

Be kind and stay safe,

Éric

New year, Still Recovering

Hello family, friends, and fans;

It’s been a month, give or take, since I was hospitalized with RSV. Read more about it in a previous post.

Bad news is that I’m still coughing and still have a leaky nose. My voice is still off and I can barely hit medium notes. On top of that I’m still not at full energy, I’m having trouble standing/walking for more then a half hour without feeling faint. I’m still very dizzy but that is a side effect of the pills they gave me for my heart.

Good news is that I’ve got more energy then I did, I don’t need naps anymore. I am able and okay with writing. I can think clearly most of the time and I should be fine to work from home next week.

Unrelated to the RSV, I still have numbness in my face and pressure in my left temple. My wrists and arms are not bad, which is nice.

I have an appointment with the MS clinic next week, an internal specialist in 2 weeks, and the heart institute in March. Hopefully one of them will help with the long term stuff and hopefully the RSV leftover symtoms will go away.

Thanks for following and hope you have a healthy new year.

Éric

RSV and I

Hello Friends, Family, and Fans,

Sometime in the end of November, Dragon got sick again with her third cold. It quickly passed to Pegasus and to my mother-in-law. Jen and I were mysteriously unaffected.

Then I got a tickle in my throat and HUNGRY. As long as I can remember, when I start a non-vomiting cold, I get ridiculously hungry. Maybe my body is trying to get things ready for a bad cold.

By Saturday December 2nd, I was sick. I had trouble eating, moving, and talking. I tried to drink water as much as possible. Soon it was getting hard for me to breathe and both kids were still feeling it. We saw our family doctor on the 5th and I was prescribed a puffer and tests. Jen had a tickle by that point.

My nights were spent coughing and trying to force air into my lungs. In the Thursday as I was about to get a chest x-ray, my watch beeped and said something like, “You’re at rest and your heart rate just jumped, are you okay?”

Friday the 8th, I was sitting on the couch feeling my heart beat fast and not able to catch my breath. Finally Jen said, “Maybe you should go to the hospital?”

I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to leave my house and comfort, but my chest hurt. Jen called 911.

The ambulance took me to the Civic hospital where we found out:

  • My heart rate was 230 (normal resting is around 80-90)
  • I was dehydrated (probably from not being able to eat much, diarrhea, and fever)
  • I had low potassium, sodium, and magnesium
  • I had no vitamin D (doctors used the words “impossible” and “weird” more than I like about this)
  • I had a mild urinary tract infection

All of which was being caused by severe case of RSV and mild pneumonia.

At the hospital, they tried to shock my heart back into normal rhythm (twice) but it didn’t work. They gave me an IV with multiple medicines to help bring my heart rate down and by Saturday afternoon it was in the low 100’s.

Art by Dragon that was brought to the hospital in a care package along with some clothes and toiletries.

The rest of the weekend was spent coughing, hooked up to machines, and eating way too much crushed ice. The hospital staff took amazing care of me and I would be dead right now if not for them.

I was released on Monday, with pills that would control my heart rate, vitamin D supplements, and a plan to look in on me. They assure me the heart rate won’t be an issue once I get over the cold and I’ll be back to normal. (There was a hiccup with one of my IV sites getting infected, but I’m on antibiotics now.)

Now I need to recover. I’m still sick with RSV. I have no voice, my nose leaks, I’m coughing all night, I feel weak and dizzy. Several times I’ve worried about collapsing ,but I’m getting stronger.

Jen really stepped up and even through her own sickness (much shorter and milder than the rest of ours thankfully) made sure the kids and house were taken care of. I’m really proud of her.

We had a lot of support. My in-laws have been stalwart helpers, drivers, and kid herders. We also have amazing friends and neighbours who checked in and made sure we were okay. Thank you!

My work has also been super understanding and accommodating.

As of this writing (Thursday evening) I still have but a whisper for a voice and I’m easily tired, not to mention coughing, but I do feel better. It’s going to be a long, slow recovery for me.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

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!!!

Writing

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.

Work

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!

Health

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,

Éric

Health Update November 2023

Hello,

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!

Éric

Health Update – July 2023

Hello family, friends, and fans,

In short, my health is improving but not awesome.

Bowels

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.

Arms

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.

Clumsiness

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.

MRI

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,

Éric

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,

Éric