October 23, 2003

Posted in General at 7:03 PM by Jack Chalker

Yes, it’s been a while since these pages were updated, but that’s due to a lot of things happening within the past couple of months. I’ll try and bring you briefly up to date.

     Through August, 2003, things were pretty normal, if hectic. Eva had a serious operation and had to take off work for a long recovery, but somehow Lockheed Martin still launched everybody’s Medicare and Medicaid so the world was safe, even though it meant I was basically doing all the housework as well as trying to work as much as possible. Mark Owings and I managed to get over to Horrorfind and talk with the horror small press folks, but otherwise it was a hot and wet but routine August. At the end of it, Eva, Steve, and I packed into the car and drove north to Toronto for the World Science Fiction Convention. It was a typical worldcon, the 38th that I’ve attended, and it was great talking with readers, fans, and old friends and colleagues. During this time, however, my long term physical problems with breathing and energy had been increasing, but one of those rent a scooters gave me full freedom. I’d been trying to find the cause of the problems for a year and a half and had been in and out of outpatient testing trying to find the cause and get help, but up to that point nobody had found any cause that showed up long enough to say, “Aha! That’s it!” I was beginning to think that I was just going to have to learn to live with it.

     We also had a bizarre return. Our little dog, Mavra Chang, was picked up at the kennel but when brought home she ran off into the farms beyond like a shot. It was the last time we saw here after 15+ years and cast a real pall on the homecoming. She certainly wouldn’t have lived too much longer, but this remains a shock and inexplicable.

     By early September Steve was back in school, Eva was back at work, and I was back working on Chemeleon, but that wasn’t to last. I was still drained in energy. In mid-September one of the nastiest hurricanes in recent decades roared up the boast, and we began to board up the place and hold tight. They almost always miss us, but every once in a while they don’t, and this one was to be one of the worst. This one was so mean that, for the only time in my memory, they announced that schools would close early the day it was due in order to insure that everybody could get home.

     That morning, I woke up to go to the bathroom, went into the bath off the bedroom, and the next thing I knew I was lying on the bathroom floor, unable to get up, my speech slurred, totally confused and with hallucinogenic flashes. After all sorts of attempts at getting anywhere, even sitting up, I knew I just had to hold on. Steve was due in early from school, and although I had no idea what time it was I knew it was in the morning and that meant he’d have to arrive soon. Eva was at work and I had no way to communicate with anybody. It was certainly a shock for a 12 year old to come home and find his father in such a condition, but Steve called 911 and then his mother, and within several minutes I was being loaded into an ambulance. Whatever they did brought back feelings of normalcy and control and the ability to speak clearly, and soon I was being wheeled directly into Emergency. The ER physician on duty happened to be one who knew me (he had been in Seattle SF fandom while growing up) and I was in the hands of experts poking, probing, analyzing, etc. very quickly. He also called in a top cardiologist who in turn called in a lung man just on his way out to beat the hurricaine. Together they were able to establish that I had suffered a heart attack with blockages in three of the four main passages. The cardiology OR at the county hospital was shut down–not enough experts with the storm coming–so they transferred me to Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, which is next to Pimlico race track and not far from where I grew up, and by late night I was having two primary stints installed and a third cleaned out. It was now clear to one and all that I had actually had a small attack almost two years earlier and that this was the cause of my earlier problems; this one was considerably meaner. The burden lifted off me by the heart surgery is dramatic, although getting some energy back is slow and must be done carefully. I am also currently on 15 pills a day (no kidding) and carry nitro with me at all times. Recovery is noticeable but very slow, so if you see me at a con and I’m tired out, you know why. Still, I made it to World Fantasy Con and will hopefully make it to Loscon if they get me plane tickets, and I’m due for a couple more yet (see Conventions) so we’ll see. In the meantime, bear with these pages if they are not updated quickly or completely. Lots of work, so little energy and no time to make up the losses….

     So, that’s why I’ve been way behind (2004 may be the first year since 1981 with no new book, but I am back working) and why even the internet pages haven’t been updated. At the moment, if all goes well, I still intend to be at Conclave in DC in mid-November at least for a day or so, Loscon in LA around Thansgiving weekend, as well as Philcon, and I’ll also be in Indianapolis for a new con in mid-January 2004, but cross your fingers. Once you’ve had an attack like this, nothing’s ever confident again…. jlc

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Home page