January 25, 2018

February 2018

Satanic Tarot Cards

Let's start with the good news: The Satanic Tarot is finished. Both the book and the deck have been completed. The deck is available for purchase now, and the book will be available for purchase within the next week. If you want to be notified when the book becomes available in both paperback and Kindle, you can use the link at the top of this page to join my mailing list.

I had hoped that I would be able to arrange for a publisher to pick up the book and deck for combined distribution, and I've received some favorable feedback from the publishers I contacted over the past four months, but for reasons I'll explain shortly a publishing agreement is something I'm no longer willing to wait for.

In other news, February has historically been a bad month for me. An appendicitis, a collapsed lung, a major depressive episode, and even that time I fainted at the gym and ripped my scalp -- all of it happened in February. It's absolute superstition for me to believe in an annual curse, especially since I've had a whole lot of other really great Februaries, but the prejudice remains.

The prejudice is feeling especially sharp this February because this past August I was diagnosed with a spinal cord tumor. The neurologist I'm consulting told me in August that according to the MRI scan it appears benign and no action was necessary since I wasn't experiencing any of the expected symptoms. Last fall was great for me, but I got a December surprise when I began experiencing weakness in my hands. Since January, I've also begun experiencing pain radiating down my arms and into my hands and fingers. And since about a week ago, I've begun experience pain radiating down my legs and into my feet.

At the present moment, I'm fully able-bodied and to look at me you wouldn't know that anything was out of place, but benign as this tumor may be, left to run its course the symptoms will eventually lead to paralysis and worse. Fortunately for me, I live in Canada where I don't have to worry about how I'm going to pay for my health care. I've got access to all the diagnostic services I need as well as the advice of the best neurosurgeon I could ask for.

And can you guess when my next MRI is scheduled? 

February.

Because I'm fully able-bodied, the most likely decision from my neurosurgeon is that we're going to continue to wait and watch. Even if I'm experiencing some discomfort from the nerve damage caused by the tumor ever so slowly expanding within my spinal cord, the surgery to remove the tumor is all but guaranteed to cause additional nerve damage and potentially result in loss of strength, a reduced range of motion, decreased sensation, and even partial paralysis. The cure is worse than the disease, and for this reason neurosurgeons typically wait until the the attendant risks of spinal surgery outweigh developing consequences of massive spinal damage.

The frustrating thing about living with a spinal cord tumor is that every time a new symptom appears or an existing symptom becomes more severe, it's permanent.

The symptoms I'm experiencing are irreversible.

Even so, it's possible that I could go on like this for years without needing surgery. Some people with the same kind of tumor have lived with the symptoms for more than a decade before needing surgery for the sole reason that their neurosurgeons won't risk possibly disabling them by cutting into the spinal cord.

But because it's impossible to know how long my tumor has been growing, there's no way to say how long I've already been living with it, and it's possible that the tumor could at any time start growing more rapidly and require urgent removal. In this way, it's a lot like living with a time-bomb strapped to my back: I don't know how much time is on the clock, and it's not possible to disarm the bomb without detonating it, so one way or another I'm not going to come out of this uninjured.

And did I mention that this kind of tumor is capable of growing back? Oh, yes: it's possible that at some point in the future I'll have to endure spinal surgery to removed the tumor followed by either radiation or chemotherapy to kill anything the scalpel missed only for the tumor to return. I'm in a situation now where I'm looking at charts displaying the statistical likelihood of survival rates at 3, 5, 20, and 30 years post-surgery. I'm only 34 years old, and this is deeply sobering. 

For this reason, I've decided that I'm going to pull back from most of my online life, reduce the amount of time that I spend on inconsequential activities, and generally eliminate people, activities, and things that reduce the quality of my free time.
  
I have no plans to abandon this blog, and I surely have no plans to die any time soon. Assuming I have the power to make this decision, I'm gonna be alive for a very long time. And, because I do have the power to make this particular decision, I'm eliminating sources of mental pressure and other distractions which reduce the quality of my free time.

I'm really excited to launch The Satanic Tarot and am looking forward to recording a series of video tutorials on my YouTube channel showing how to perform the method of cartomancy described in the book, and I plan to continue my Tarot parties (although those might move to a biweekly schedule.)

I'm not telling you this because I want your sympathy, but to explain my motivations. To the furthest extent possible, I'm engineering my life to avoid emotional stress and mental pressure while optimizing the time I'm able to spend with my family. My neurosurgeon has not expressed an interest in performing surgery, so the actuary tables I mentioned earlier don't yet apply to me, and I have in no terms been told that my days are numbered. It's possible that after reviewing my next MRI the neurosurgeon says that I'm not in any immediate danger, and he'll see me again in six to 12 months.

But in the final calculation, I still have a time-bomb strapped to my back. I can't disarm the bomb, but I can decide how to use my time most productively. In hindsight, this is good advice that I should have been following for years, but I guess there's no time like the present to cut away the unessential.

Tick, tock...

2 comments:

  1. I'm really sorry to hear about your health issues. I personally hope to see you alive and kicking well into the future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha, that makes two of us! Thanks for the well-wishing, and I'll see you around.

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Freedom of Expression =/= Freedom from Consequences