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,

Éric

Yes, I’m still wearing a mask

Hello Readers,

My workplace has decided that masks are no longer needed in the workplace. They were previously only mandatory in shared locations and not in our cubicles (cubicles which had three-foot high walls and we share with 3 other people.)

The policy was announced on Tuesday and when I went into work on Thursday I was in an elevator with several other people. An older man leaned over to one of the others and stage whispered, “I guess we know who reads the office emails.”

From my experience, 1 in 10 people are still wearing masks and I expect that to lower significantly next week.

Although I fully understand the annoyance with masks and not wanting to wear them, I will continue to wear a mask for the foreseeable future. I’m not going to judge those who choose not to wear them.

I don’t like being sick. I have never liked it. I will never like it.

I caught COVID back in February 2020 and I’m still having trouble breathing and have low energy. It was one of the hardest weeks of my life. The week was bad enough, but I lost taste for a few months, had constant headaches, pain, and weakness for almost a year. I worry about what will happen to me if/when I get it again.

So, yes, I will wear my mask. It might not protect me completely, but it’s all I have.

Stay safe and be kind,

Éric

Dear Dragon and Pegasus

Dear Dragon and Pegasus,

This week we did something that we hadn’t done since the before times. We visited your école. The last time we were at the school was the sliver of time between getting over Covid and the complete shut down. It was February 12th, I believe.

Last time we went, Pegasus had just started walking and Dragon was so tiny.

This week was about Pegasus seeing a real classroom and playing with other kids his age. We also wanted to get Dragon excited for school next year. Dragon, you’ve been in digital school for almost three years and I think you’re stressed at the idea of changing.

People have been telling us that it would be better for the you two to be at school versus digital school.

I’ve been hesitant for a few reasons. First are the memories I have of being in grade school; I didn’t have a great experience and I really don’t want the same for you.

The second is more selfish, I’ll miss you. Right now I get to have lunch with you 3 times a week and hang out after. I also get to hear or be told what you did and I know that’ll change.

Change is inevitable and I know the best thing for Dragon is to go into in person school. I’ve been seeing signs that the screen combined with the sound quality is bothering you. You’re showing some pretty obvious signs of neurodiversity, which would be mitigated by having a teacher next to you and the resources at the school. I’m still worried about your temper and emotional regulation though. You also fidget more than I did at that age, which is saying something.

I’m not as convinced that Pegasus should be going into full day junior kindergarten. You are advanced in your language, math, and letters. Your small motor skills are excellent too. Unfortunately, your social skills are heavily influenced by your sister, so you’re more used to playing with kids rather than parallel play. During the open house, you actually got into a little fight with another kid. They didn’t want you to play with the kitchen and you really wanted to. You used your words, but they only spoke in partial phrases and didn’t. You ended up pushing the child almost twice your size against the wall. You did have fun and you would probably thrive with the right guidance.

Added to the fact that you are stubbornly refusing to fully potty train, I’m not sure it’ll be the best place for you. We definitely need to take you to the park and set up some play dates with other kids though.

All of this is complicated by my fear and stress. I’m trying really hard to not show it though. Covid is becoming a new normal and honestly I hate it. I’m still dealing with side effects, mostly breathing issues, from the first time I got it 3 years ago and I don’t want this for you. I was told that long covid seems to mostly get better with time, but I still worry about you both.

It was great seeing you playing with other people and I love how independent you were. You both checked in with us and wanted to share your joy, but you didn’t need us there.

Once again, things are changing and I don’t like it. I’m going to enjoy the next few months of us all being together as much as I can. I’ll try and store up the snuggles before they’re gone and appreciate the happy sounds before the house is too quiet.

I love you both so much,

Papa

The Death of Physical Media

Hello Friends,

Three or four years ago, a coworker told me he had a dozen boxes of DVDs in his basement that he wanted to get rid of. I thought he was kidding, but he said he could find everything through legal or piratey streaming so he didn’t care to keep the disks.

Since then, I’ve seen the decline in stores that sell it and a decline in studios that release them. Could anyone have believed ten years ago that Disney wouldn’t release the seasons of any Marvel TV show? Or that they wouldn’t release the sequel to Enchanted?

Maybe people aren’t like me. I like to rewatch things and I like to collect the things that make me happy. So maybe people are okay not owning their favourite movies.

I don’t judge, much, but it worries me on another level. What happens to the movies and shows that are never released and that a studio/streamer take off their system? HBO is doing that now and it means a whole lot of shows are only available by pirating them. What happens when that isn’t the exception, but the rule?

A large portion of silent films made in North America during the early 20th century are lost. The film burned or destroyed. Even more television shows from the mid 20th century are lost due to reusing tape, like many episodes of the original Doctor Who.

I worry that we may be entering a movie and television dark age, where we’ll find that more than half of the content is gone.

I worry that future historians won’t be able to tell the difference between Cocoon (which is impossible to find) and Goncharov.

Or maybe DVDs will go the way of the vinyl record.

What do you think?

Éric

Change in Schedule – Dear Pegasus and Dragon

Dear Pegasus and Dragon,

Your mum and I had a plan. It was a good plan. Until Dragon went to school we’d have your schedule be 11pm sleeptime and 11am wake up. This meant we had more time with you and the grandparents after dinner.

It worked really well and we were getting mentally prepared to change it when the pandemic and first lockdown hit. We decided that since mum was mostly homeschooling Dragon that we’d keep going.

Now that Dragon is going to be going to full time digital school next week (Yikes) we’ll be switching your schedule to 8pm bedtime and 8am wakeup time.

I’m kinda terrified about how it’s going to work. Worried that we’ve messed up your internal clock or something. Hopefully everything will be okay, but I definitely expect it to be a hard first few weeks.

As much as this past year or so has been terribly scary and more than a little frustrating, I’ve enjoyed the extra time we’ve had together. I’m not sure you’ll remember much from this year but between the homeschooling activities and the extra time at night to snuggle, I’m not going to forget.

This feels like a big change for us, but if we do it right you won’t remember it.

Love you both,

Papa (Éric)

Dear Pegasus – First Puke Night

Dear Pegasus,

Last night you woke up and puked large un-chewed chunks of zucchini and little tiny seafood. It wasn’t fun for anyone. (Dragon didn’t wake up, so not bad for her.)

Two baths, three sheets, four pyjamas, and lots of sad looks later, you fell asleep.

You were so afraid of lying down that you insisted on sitting up in my lap. Every time you nodded off, you had this look of worry on your face.

At one point, close to 3:20, you settled into my arm, looked up at me, sighed deeply, and said, “Papa.” It was so soft and sad. You settled into sleep not long after and you insisted on being held while you slept.

A hard night and lots of worry, but you’re fine now and it’s hopefully not going to be a new trend.

I hate not being able to do anything to make it better, but hopefully holding you helped make you feel more comfortable falling asleep. You seem okay now and are happily playing.

Not looking forward to tonight. Hopefully you won’t associate puking with sleep. I also hope this isn’t a new habit.

Love you!

Papa

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

Dear Dragon – École à maison

Dear Dragon,

What a wild year. It’s been quite a historic and interesting time. I’ve been lucky to work from home and be with you, your Mum, and Pegasus full time.

You’re clever, stubborn, and passionate. You’re also an extremely social kid and this has been tough on you.

Last February you visited your école. This is a new virus and there are all kinds of worrisome side effects being reported. It’s possible the threat of that and the threat to your grandparents is over-exaggerated, but we don’t want to take the chance.

With Mum working from home and the travel business being a little slow, we are in the perfect place to help you learn from home. We haven’t decided exactly what we’re doing. It’ll depend on what the école has planned.

Mum has some fantastic ideas and I hope you get as excited as mum has been about her ideas.

Overall, I’m not too worried. You’re already a little ahead and we mostly need to build on what you already know and encourage you to learn more French. Again, I’m sorry for not speaking to you more in French.

We’ll see what happens. The year is only three quarters done and has lots of surprises left for us.

I love you little Dragon,

Papa

Dear Dragon – École

Dear Dragon,

You’re no longer a baby. On Wednesday we went to visit your future school. You’ll be going to a French Public school and from the look on your face when we visited, you’re going to love it.

I’m nervous about a lot of things; snacks and lunches, you making friends, dealing with buses, you learning more French. I feel I’ve failed you as a francophone parent, but hopefully the school will help and I’ll start speaking to you in French more once you understand. (I spoke to you in both, but once you understood English I just stuck with that.)

One of the teachers took you to get a paper and a crayon when we visited the class and you never looked back. I have a feeling that we could have left and you wouldn’t have noticed. I’m glad you’re so independent. I’m still nervous. You’ve never spent more than a few hours without someone from the family and well… I know I’m being silly. (I’m starting to understand how Marlin from Finding Nemo felt.)

We still have six months before you go to school but when you do, it’ll change our whole lives.

You’ll love the social interaction though. I sometimes feel like we don’t stimulate your socialness enough. Sorry KYD, your parents are introverts.

Every stage you grow is wonderful and scary to me. This one just feels bigger, probably cause it has so much more paperwork.

I love you baby Dragon,

Papa

#PuppyGate or How the Hugos lost my Respect

Hello my Imaginary Friends,

I’ve talked about the Sad Puppies before but as it turns out they’ve escalated. I planned on writing a long essay about the subject but giants have started to enter the fray. I’ll leave a plethora of links at the bottom of this post for those that are interested.

What are Sad/Sick Puppies

The Sad Puppies and Sick Puppies are groups of Science Fiction and Fantasy fans that are sick of what they call “Social Justice Warriors” corrupting the pure essence of genre fiction. Or in some cases they say they are about promoting authors that would normally never get on the ballot on their own.

It almost sounds plausible. Almost until you hear that the second architect is Theodore Beale (AKA Vox Day). If you don’t recognize the name you might recognize the movement he founded called GamerGate. The association of Beale alone makes me not trust them.

Their members can’t seem to come up with a consistent explanation. Some range from, “I miss science-fiction that was just adventure and not social criticism” to “too much emphasis has been put on pushing agendas in science fiction when good books are being ignored”

What did they do? / #PuppyGate

They legally, if not ethically, created a slate of authors that they believed should be nominated and then voted as a group to make sure they made the ballot. Meaning that between 2 to 5 of each category in the Hugo’s are Sad Puppy candidates (That’s out of 5 by the way).

Read about both sides below.

How it makes me feel

This is the first time since I’ve decided to become an author that I’m glad I haven’t been published and that I’m not involved in this world. Had I heard about this kind of thing when I started I would have never tried to be published.

I try to include diverse characters in my books. It’s not always easy but it’s a reflection of our world and should be done. I want people to read my books and relate to some of the characters, not just white-straight-men but everyone.

I want politics in my science fiction and fantasy. I want social issues to be reflected in what I read and write. Anyone who tells you there weren’t social or political ideals in classic science fiction needs to go re-watch Star Trek, Re-Read Asimov, and get their heads out of their asses.

Are the awards broken? I have no clue but I think they might be. This may turn them into a political party style event, that would suck considering that tactic doesn’t work well for regular people even in politics.

What Now

I had dreams of maybe someday winning the “Triple Crown” of Science fiction (Hugo, Nebula, and Campbell Memorial Award). Now that I’ve read up on them and followed the politics, not to mention that a lot of the authors I greatly respect haven’t won all that many awards means I’m not sure how much I care anymore.

This whole debacle has soured me on these sorts of things.

I’ll settle for someday living off my writing. That’s all I really need. Anything more is bonus.

Further Research

Here are all the links I promised and some of the better explanations:

And in the spirit of showing both sides:

And finally if you’re willing to dedicate the time, here are George R.R. Martin’s thoughts on the whole thing:

 

To Borrow Ajay Fry’s tagline, “See you in the future”,

Éric