My eye doctor saved my life

I found out about six weeks ago that I have Myasthenia Gravis, a rare long-term condition that causes muscle weakness that comes and goes. It most commonly affects the muscles that control the eyes and eyelids, facial expressions, chewing, swallowing and speaking. But it can affect most parts of the body, usually the arms and legs and occasionally the lungs.

So far, I seem to only have the ocular kind. I have trouble keeping my eyes open and I see double if I don’t wear an eye patch to block one eye. Either eye. It doesn’t matter.  This is a lot of fun when your left eye gets tired so you switch the eye patch to the other side to rest it. You can see people trying to get up the nerve to ask.

I’d been seeing double for a couple of months and writing it off as just getting old and having a lot of eye strain from too much writing. Then one day I stopped to get gas and punched a pump because I reached for the illusory handle instead of the real one.

I called Haike and Humble and they were going to set me up for an appointment the next week until they asked about my symptoms and I started explaining them. Then they said to come on over right then. I have to admit, I was a little amused that an eye doctor was telling me to hurry.

Dr. Jennifer Owens gave me a check up and asked who my primary care physician was. I said “Well, Dr. Baldwin delivered me.” She said she meant who was the last doctor I went to and I had to admit that was pretty much my last doctor’s visit. The old dude slapped me on the butt and I got on up out of there and never went back.

So she took it on herself to make an appointment for me with Kyle Bruyninckx in Mangham.  He asked a few questions and then scheduled an MRI for that afternoon. Now by this time, I’m beginning to get a little nervous. I don’t like doctors to begin with and I really don’t like finding out I’ve got something that makes them start using phrases like “as soon as possible” and “just to be sure.”

So I get an MRI at Richardson Medical Center at 4:30 from a tech who stayed late to do it because whatever was wrong seemed to be the kind of thing that made doctors get really antsy. I got a call from Dr. Bruyninckx in my car on the way home from the MRI. I live 15 minutes from the hospital.

The MRI showed a possible mass in my brain. So they scheduled two more CT scans to get a better look at it. Meanwhile, Dr. Owens called and told me she’d gotten me an appointment with an with a specialist in Shreveport, again, as soon as possible just to be sure.

He’s said the CT scans were “unremarkable,” gave me a bunch of eye tests and then put a couple of rubber gloves filled with ice on my eyes. The ice apparently puts the chemicals that cause the drooping eye lids to sleep, so if you can open your eyes a couple of millimeters wider when they take them off, that’s a good sign you have MG. They took the ice off and Dr. Vekovious and his nurse both flinched back and said “Wow.”

So that’s where it stands. He told me to wear an eye patch to deal with the double vision and after a blood test to confirm it, he gave me a prescription for prednisone and mestinon. Within two weeks of taking the meds, my double vision was gone and I was feeling normal again. Yesterday, he switched the prednisone to cellcept. I braced for the deathly side effects that these meds are supposed to cause and so far have none of them.

I still am not a fan of doctors and hate going to the hospital or the doctor’s office. But I have to admit without these three doctors, I’d probably be dead. I’d have just kept closing one eye so that I could see and fighting off the fatigue until I ran into a culvert or the muscles that control my breathing decided to stop working. That’s usually what happens to guys like me. We just keep ticking until we run down and die like a cheap watch.

I don’t know that I’d have looked for a primary care physician on my own and I certainly wouldn’t have looked for a specialist. I owe a special thanks to Jennifer Owens for taking my health more seriously than I do.

If Kyle Bruyninckx hadn’t rushed me into the MRI before I knew what I was doing or had decided to wait a few days until we could get my insurance straightened out, I’d have probably blown off the first test.

If the staff at Richardson Medical Center hadn’t been so good at what they do, I’d have never made it through an MRI, three CT scans and more blood work than I can remember.

Finally, if Bryan Vekovius hadn’t been able to figure out what was wrong with me on the first visit, I’d have given up on the whole process before the second visit. This is really remarkable because MG is usually misdiagnosed as MS or ALS and then when those tests come back negative, people go years without a diagnosis and it just gets worse.

I was really lucky that I hit three doctors who are amazing people who do great work.

So, yeah, I’ll admit it, my eye doctor saved my life.

The Glass Bard

The Glass BardThe Glass Bard is now available on Amazon. It’s free if you’ve got Kindle Unlimited.

The rules for self publishing are pretty simple.
1) Pay for a professional cover.
2) Pay for a good blurb.
3) Pay for professional editing.

I did none of this. I created the cover myself, from the artwork to the design. I am not unhappy with it and I make no apologies.

I wrote the blurb myself:

“The last thing Jack Daw remembers is falling asleep at his desk. When he awakens, he is trapped in the procedurally generated open world of a computer role playing game. Befriended by the beautiful runaway slave girl, Sai, Jack must use his ability scores, the luck of the dice and his knowledge of every video gaming trope and exploit he’s ever encountered to beat the game. If only he hadn’t rolled a bard.”

I didn’t pay for editing but I had my wife and my daughter look over it and I edited it again after they were done. Both of them are talented writers My daughter is a brutal, snarky editor.

I feel pretty good about it.

Please feel free to tell me what you think about the book or the cover.

Friends, liberals, Americans …

Every now and then I see posts on social media that just make me sad. The latest are the ones about the Shakespeare in the Park production of Julius Caesar in which a president who looks a lot like Donald Trump gets stabbed to death. Apparently, liberals love it and conservatives hate it.

As someone who remembers the history of Rome and has actually read the play and watched it several times … this is completely backwards.

Caesar (in Shakespeare’s play and in real life) was a competent, well-meaning leader who strengthened Rome and its republic. He was murdered by anti-republican cowards who immediately installed a dictatorship which led directly to the fall of the Roman empire.

Caesar was the hero. Mark Antony’s speech was a masterpiece of calling out cowards and liars who had betrayed their country and its legitimate leader.

For a liberal to praise this play, he must condemn his own kind. For a conservative to complain about it … is to admit he missed Shakespeare’s point.

I tend to believe that, as so often happens, young, politically idealistic liberals designed a scene based entirely on appearance and emotional impact with no concern for its actual substance and meaning and conservatives jerked their knees to the style without realizing the Shakespeare was speaking for them.

But what do I know. Maybe if Shakespeare were alive today he’d be writing plays with antifas heroes. And monkeys might fly out of my butt. The only real lesson here is that art is wasted on people whose idea of subtlety is holding up a severed head, setting trash cans on fire and chanting.

The stuff nightmares are made of …


It came in the mail today. Another package from the Wong Trading Company of Oslo, Norway. This time, instead of documents and photos, it was a wooden crate and inside the crate … a stone. Tentacles taking a longboat. Death in dark water. A Nordic nightmare carved into stone.

And a note from the girl who sent it … and all the other packages. She found me through my daughter. And I have her name, a confession of sorts and a warning. A warning that the museum had her on video taking the stone. They know who she is now. They’ll be looking for her.

They probably won’t find her. She went into the dark water with a rune carved in birch, a ship filled with automatic weapons and a ritual. If she was successful, it’s all over now.

If she failed, the dreams will begin tonight.

Fine. I’m a Shadow.

I’m getting a really strong Babylon 5 vibe from this election.
When I say this, I’m talking Trump vs. Bernie.
Trump and Bernie are both outsiders. They both represent real, actual people and not just the ruling political parties who only care about perpetuating their own power and corruption.
Both are genuinely good people with genuinely good goals. I know a lot of people will say they’re so opposite that there’s no way that is even possible, but it really is.
Bernie supporters aren’t blocking highways and throwing feces and urine at police in Cleveland. We all know those are Hillary supporters … the same Hillary supporters who helped create chaos and commit massive voter fraud to keep Bernie off the ballot.
The shame is that while the Republicans failed to keep Trump off the ballot, the Democrats succeeded in their plot against Bernie.
Let’s face it, an election between Cruz and Hillary would have been a waste of everyone’s time. You’d have to choose between supporting the status quo or stopping things from changing.
Trump vs. Bernie would be about two equally valid and moral ideologies. And that’s what brings me back to Babylon 5. When I talk to a Bernie supporter, half the time, I feel like I’m talking to a Vorlon.
For those who don’t remember a big part of Babylon 5’s plot revolved around the endless battle between the Vorlons and the Shadows, two ancient races who represented good and evil … except at the end, it turns out that’s not what they represented at all. It turns out that the being that created both races had meant for them to look after emerging civilizations, but they’d had a falling out over the best way to do it.
The Vorlons saw themselves as shepherds. They wanted to help and protect everyone. For most of the series, they were portrayed as the good guys.
The Shadows were portrayed as constantly attacking people and being against everyone. But it turned out, the reason they did that was they believed if you fed and clothed and protected a race, it would never evolve. It would remain at the level of a well-fed pet forever. The Shadows believed that rather than fighting for the oppressed, it was better to teach them how to fight, or create conditions where they’d either learn or perish.
That is essentially the difference between liberals and conservatives. At least if you strip away the over the top rhetoric and outright lies that people in the mainstream establishment tell about their enemies.
The truth is we need to learn to work together.
Bernie is right. There needs to be a basic standard of living that we will not allow any of our people to fall beneath. It is our responsibility as Americans to take care of other Americans.
But Trump is right, too. We can’t allow people to live their entire lives at that basic level without making any effort to improve themselves. And we can’t help people who aren’t willing to do basic work of coming here legally.
Our current system is broken. Trump can’t fix it. Bernie can’t fix it. Hillary is the rust that’s destroying it.
The only hope is for Bernie and Trump supporters, the actual people of America, to come together and find some kind of middle ground.
You help us close the borders. We’ll help you make it possible to send every legal citizen who wants to attend college to go to college.
We’ll help you proved a safety net for people who need welfare. You help us make sure that net doesn’t turn into a trap they spend their entire life in.
We’ll help you see to it that police who murder innocent people are dealt with immediately and harshly. You help us see to it that criminals who attack the police are dealt with just as harshly.
We both agree that either all lives matter or no lives matter. Anything else is just partisan politics and that’s what’s killing us both.

Still fighting Ozymandias

Conservatives fight liberals the way Indians fought cowboys. They win a fight. They celebrate. They move on. Every issue is re-evaluated every time.
Liberals fight conservatives like the cavalry fought Indians. After each fight, they build a fort and dig in. Their only interest is in more forts and more territory.
You give them civil rights, they want gay rights. You give them gay rights, they want transgender rights. You give them that and, yes, they will want more. Because each new generation wants a new fort and more territory. They will always look for something to champion and the causes will become more ridiculous but they will never abandon it.
The people patting themselves on the back for making the ladies room safe for men today … will be grownups in 20 years who’ve become conservative and they’ll resent being called bigots by the kids who are pushing to legalize pedophilia or bestiality.
It’s not good or bad. It’s just the cyclical nature of the universe. If you’re not a liberal when you’re 20, you have no heart. If you’re still a liberal when you’re 40, you have no brain.
And like all civilizations, ours will become more liberal and more progressive. Like the Romans, and the Greeks, and the Sumerians. Like the Aztecs and the Mayans. Like the Egyptians. Like all the other dead cultures who showed promise in their youth, then progressed so far they destroyed themselves in an orgy of tolerance.
The good news is that what replaces us will be magnificent. Of course, it will be built by conservatives and capitalists. The Napoleans, the Alexanders, the Khans, the Washingtons. The people who understand that the true test of a machine is what it produces and not how well it tolerates rust.
Then that, too, will fall apart when it has worked so well and produced so long that people with no fear of starvation or suffering will become obsessed with making life better for people who contribute nothing and the expense of people who created all.
Morality, ethics and honor can fall out of fashion and they can be outlawed but they will always exist and in the end, they are the values that will be needed by those who have to rebuild from the rubble left when liberalism fails … as it always has and always will.
Politics come and go. Movements come and go. Nations and civilizations come and go. But the people are forever. We have witnessed the rise and fall of Ozymandias a thousand times and we still gather to tell of the time he thought he ruled us.
We always have and we always will.