This starts my new blog. Welcome.
At times, writing is an Olympic event requiring the mental and physical stamina of someone hurtling down the ice chutes of the bobsled. To stay in writing shape, I’ve learned I have to leave my desk a few times a day and actually be physical and exercise. This is tough for someone who loves the out-of-body experience of disappearing into a story, whether writing a story or reading one. Never mind shaving, eating, or dressing. I love to leap from a night's rest (one dream state) to writing (another dream state). Too much of that, though, and one becomes a fried Twinkie on a stick.
I was reminded of the mind/body division last year when I was hobbled with a headache that didn’t go away. After four days of it nonstop, I went to my doctor who told me, no, I didn’t have a brain tumor. I had TMJ. I must be grinding my teeth or clenching my jaw, he said. Use a hot compress every three hours for fifteen minutes.
This seemed odd to me. After all, I’d been rewriting a novel that, while I painted myself into a corner occasionally, I then flew through the air triumphantly. I haven’t been tensing my jaw. However, when the doctor pressed a certain spot on my jaw, yeow!
While I was coming to accept that I had TMJ, my wife, Ann, the next day noticed my forehead breaking out in a rash. Having been through a TV binge of House watching, she declared I had shingles. “You should look it up,” she said. Right. Shingles. Nixon had that, and I had no compulsion to say “I’m not a crook.”
After a few hours, my rash became pink bubblegum on a hot sidewalk, so she looked up “shingles” on her laptop and showed me pictures. They looked like stills from driver training movies. She also read that if the rash was near an eye as mine was, eyesight could be compromised or lost. Faster than you can say “Bobsled,” we belted ourselves in the car and bolted to Urgent Care.
The doctor there said Ann was right. I had shingles, and it played with my nerves, which is why I had the headache and the TMJ. I took Tramadol and an antiviral throughout the days for over a month. The blisters deflated, but the headache remained like a drunken yodeler, louder when the medicine wore off. In fact, when I stopped it once, it felt like my head was on fire. It took six weeks until I didn't need medicine, and maybe three months for most of the tenderness to disappear.
This all reminded me to not take health or the ability to write for granted. I felt too lethargic for weeks to do any exercise, but I finally started up again.
I celebrate this past event by starting this blog. I previously had a blog on Red Room, but Red Room went away. Before it did, my website and my blog were in two different places. Now they're together. I always enjoyed writing blogs, so I'll work my way back into the habit again. I'll probably include some of my previous blogs that I thought might be useful, so stay tuned.
In all, I learned for our minds to whirl at their usual pace, we have to stay in shape. A smaller lesson from this: if you’re over fifty and you had chicken pox as a kid, consider getting the shingles vaccine.
Before I wrote novels and plays, I was a journalist and reviewer (plays and books). I blogged on Red Room for five years before moving here.