Report on Old Doug: Health, Theater, eBook, and More
Normally on my blog I try and write little essays about various topics, but I thought it was time to furnish a few updates on various personal matters for those readers who know me well. Let's start with my novels.
As of today, the Kindle version of my book is available for download in an electronic form for the price of $2.99. I'm very pleased by the way it looks, though (from all the law books I've published for the last 40 years) I know that devilish little errors are the first thing I notice when I read the published version of anything I've produced (and there have been dozens of such publications, all with the same disappointment). I only hope there aren't big mistakes in "Imaginary Friend" (say, a missing chapter) that I've mysteriously overlooked. Anyone wanting the printed version can still get it from Amazon for $15.00. But I am not done publicizing the book, which leads me to the next topic.
The conference agenda is amazing. On Wednesday, July 6, it's devoted to "CraftFest," with many experts discussing things like how to make a presentation to an agent, how to get publicity for an eBook, etc., with CraftFest extending until the morning of the next day. The afternoon of Thursday is the equivalent of "speed dating," only with 50 well-known agents, each willing to hear a three minute pitch about prospective novels. I've already culled their bios to find fifteen who look promising ("interested in controversial works" catching my attention fast, given that one of my books is about atheism and the other about homosexuality as a covert CIA activity). On Friday and Saturday there are a series of panel discussions with famous authors doing the presentations. By "famous" I mean the biggest names in thriller fiction: Ken Follett, James Patterson, John Sanford, etc. One two-hour event involves a panel of actual members of the real CIA talking about that agency's representation (and misrepresentation) in thrillers—what's right and what's wrong. I plan to raise my hand and ask if the agency really uses homosexual agents to penetrate otherwise closed societies (see "Related Posts" below at "“The Thunderbolt”). That should prove interesting.
3. Theater. The Columbus Civic Theater's run of "Hamlet" is over. It was great fun with a wonderful cast, crew, and director. The reviews were very good and the audiences praised the show. Shakespeare is always to rewarding to play, being rich in beautifully phrased lines and revealing insights about the human experience. At every performance I saw something new that my character, the evil King Claudius, was plotting. The best fun for me was the famous prayer speech in which the king tries vainly to concoct a prayer that heaven will accept and thereby excuse his considerable sins. Playing villains is always fun—when the lights went out at the end of the play, four bodies littered the stage and mine was one of them.
|"Forgive me my foul murder?"|
4. Health. As related before on this blog, at the one year anniversary of my heart transplant last November I was the poster boy for the whole program. My rejection rate was zero (the scale runs from zero, very good, to four, very bad), all of the tests showed I was in great shape, and I was vigorously working out with weights, push-ups, sit-ups, exercycle, etc. The tests did reveal the start of a buildup in two of my arteries, which I was assured could be handled by a new medicine. At this point the doctor changed my medications, taking down the anti-rejection drugs slightly while adding the new pills, and then I was told the hospital would now move to a three month examination period, with a new biopsy to check my rejection level being scheduled for late February. This worried me. Prior to that I'd been having biopsies every month (they had all been good), and I thought it was probably a bad idea to switch my medications and then not test me for three months. But then I remembered I was in law, not medicine, so I kept my mouth shut.
In February the biopsy reported a rejection level of three, which is very serious. At this point there were major new alterations made in my drugs, and I was given more medicines than I'd had at the time of the original transplant (56 pills a day), particularly prednisone (a steroid), which always caused me to go into a mental fog, my hands began to shake and cramp, balance issues arose, my cuticles disappeared completely, I felt constantly tense and irritable, and worse. I became convinced (and remain convinced) that I was over-medicated. Most people gain weight on steroids, but both after the transplant and the new February medications, I started dramatically losing weight. I normally weigh between 195 and 200 (when working out), but the prednisone stripped me of my appetite and everything I put in my mouth, including my favorite foods, tasted like paste. I could detect salt or spices, but that simply meant the bite tasted like salty or spicy paste. Every mouthful was a chore. It took me an hour to eat seven bites of the center of a chicken pot pie one evening. My energy level dropped, I didn't have the ability to workout, I had trouble climbing steps (and all this caused my performance on stage to look shaky at times), and I couldn't sleep without an Ambien. My weight dropped and dropped, and yesterday morning I stood on the scales, a skeleton, and looked at the number 161, down from 163 the day before. None of my clothes fit. Some of my symptoms sound funny but, trust me, are not: I have no fat in my buttocks which means I'm painfully sitting on just skin and bones, and I'm in constant danger of my pants falling down wherever I happen to be (ho, ho, ho, right?). For my trip to NYC next week I had to buy all new clothes. The mental fog has been tough on me too. I had to rewrite one of my law casebooks this spring, and sometimes had the problem of being unable to type due to shaking hands and faulty memory; playing tournament bridge one evening I forgot how to keep score in a game I've played for decades. Fortunately the steady drop in the amount of prednisone finally lifted the fog, and my head is clear these days.
"My Heart Belonged to Andrew," February 17, 2010
"Frightening the Horses," April 7, 2010
"Mama, Biopsies, and My iPad," May 19, 2010
"Imaginary Friend," June 22, 2010
“The Thunderbolt,” September 3, 2010
“Explosion at Ohio Stadium,” [Chapter One of "Imaginary Friend"] October 9, 2010
"Escape From Ohio Stadium," [Chapter Two of "Imaginary Friend"] November 2, 2010
"Open Mouth, Insert Foot," [Chapter Three of "Imaginary Friend"] November 21, 2010
"Naming My Heart," March 24, 2011
"Another Opening, Another Show: Doug is in Hamlet," April 29, 2011