If anyone is still following this page, my apologies for the long silence. Allow me to explain:
My last post was on 10/26/2011, letting everyone know that the book had been cancelled by Twisted Library Press. TLP has pretty much cratered since then; everything was cancelled, not just us.
Two days after that last post, I went to get my very first flu shot. Two days after that, I was in the emergency room. I had developed weakness in my hands and feet that advanced to the point that I could no longer walk. I was admitted to the ICU and diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder that sometimes follows a flu shot or other vaccination. The primary symptom is paralysis progressing inward from the extremities. Mine progressed quickly. Within a few days, I could no longer move anything below my chin, and had to be placed on a ventilator and a feeding tube because I could no longer breathe or eat. I was basically a head in a jar, unable to move or speak, for a number of weeks.
Eventually the paralysis began to recede, and I proceeded with the long and difficult process of learning to move, walk, eat and drink again. You don't think about how complicated standing up is until you have to learn to do it again. Fortunately I had the help of a wonderful physical therapist who kept me from giving up when it got hard.
After I was finally well enough to leave the rehabilitation hospital (walking, but on a walker), a routine check-up with the pulmonologist six days later revealed that my lungs were full of blood clots. The medical term is pulmonary embolism, which is life-threatening. This probably happened because I was unable to move for so long, which can cause clots to form. I was sent back to the hospital immediately so that could be treated. Fortunately, that only took a few days to get started; unfortunately it meant that I would be on blood-thinning medication (rat poison) for the next six months.
I continued to go to outpatient physical therapy to try to get back to normal with my walking and balance. By Valentine's Day I was able to walk without a walker, although not as quickly or as gracefully as most people. My muscles had atrophied while I was in the hospital; I had lost 50-60 pounds withering away while I was paralyzed. The good folks at the rehab hospital discharged me from therapy and wished me well.
Then, in March, my uncle died and my mother had a stroke. She had to be flown to a hospital in another state. Eventually she was released to rehab as well -- the same rehab where she had recently come to visit me as a patient. They were shocked that we were back, but took care of her, and after a few weeks she was released as well. Eventually she was almost 100% recovered.
My wife and I moved in with her temporarily to care for her. Four days after we got her home, I got up in the middle of the night to let the dog out, tripped, and broke my ankle in 6+ places. It had to be surgically reconstructed and is now full of plates, screws, wires, pins, and bone grafts. The orthopedist said I would have to be off my feet for at least three months. So, after all that work, I was back in a wheelchair. I did not have the strength or balance to manage crutches.
That was in April. About 14 weeks later I was allowed to put weight on my foot again. I can get around for short distances on a walker, although not without pain. I am once again in outpatient physical therapy to try to regain the function in my ankle. Next week I have more surgery to remove some of the screws.
So, that's where I've been. Hopefully you will understand that the anthology hasn't been my first priority. I do, however, have a few ways in mind to get it published. I may not be able to pay the promised one cent per word, but we'll deal with that when the time comes. I will keep you updated as information becomes available, but I don't know when that will be. Anyone who wants to withdraw a story can do so by writing me at the submissions address.
As a self-employed writer, I had no health insurance. The health care professionals who treated me generally did so without any guarantee of payment, but never gave less than their best. As a result, I am now hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. If anyone is in a position to help, I have set up a donation page at Give Forward (just click to go there). I understand that times are tough all over. The page also allows you to give hugs, which are free. I could use a hug.
If you know of any other people or organizations who might be interested in helping, please consider giving them the address, or sharing it through your various social networks. Feel free to use me as an example of the plight of the uninsured. I ended up here by doing something that was supposed to decrease my burden on the health care industry; ironically enough, I got a flu shot because I "couldn't afford to get sick." No matter how careful you are, serious illness can hit you out of nowhere.
The address is: http://www.giveforward.com/supportmichael
Again, my apologies for all the delays on the antho. It's a labor of love, and I know how hard everyone worked on submissions that aren't useful anywhere else. I'll keep at it.
Questions or comments always welcome. I hope that everyone else has had an easier few months than I have.