Wednesday, January 15, 2014

On Surgery, Job Changes, and Writing

Hey guys!

So first off, good news. My son Marcus has just gone through the second surgery of his life about three weeks ahead of schedule, and now has a digestive tract that is in one piece. We ended up spending most of the day in the hospital with him. He was a little hungry because they didn't want to keep feeding him just before putting him under for a surgery, but other than that he was a real trooper throughout the whole thing. The doctors were pretty optimistic about his recovery too, especially since he didn't seem to need to keep the breathing tube in once he came out of it. So who knows, my son might actually come home way ahead of schedule.

We also got the chance to speak with his pulmonologist as well. He's going to be the guy that Marcus has at the CF clinic in Philadelphia for the first three years or so, which means he had plenty of advice and information for us. It was good to talk to him, and he managed to reassure us a lot about what was going on with Marcus and where we would be going from there.

In more good news, I started a new day job this week. It's going to be a good opportunity to grow and learn new skills, and they've already been really understanding and helpful for me, so I've been very lucky to make the transition. The job is also much more in the field I would like to go into for a stable, permanent career, so there's that upside as well. It's basically a wonderful opportunity that's come at a great time, though I will miss my old coworkers a little bit. Change always comes, whether we are ready for it or not!

Finally, Eagle and Broken Halo both seem to be doing fairly well. I've decided to continue the price promotion on the earlier books, at the very leas until the end of the month. The exception to that would be the German edition of Wolfhound, which is already back up to its previous price. Aside from that, I've been scraping out the time to write here and there, and hopefully I will be able to recover a little bit as things start to get back to normal.

In any case, I hope everyone is doing well out there, and I will see you around!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

On a Sale

So Eagle and Broken Halo should be up soon. I'm thinking maybe Monday at the latest? We'll see.

In celebration of getting both books up this year despite my usual chaos-ridden life, I'm going to put Wolfhound, Badger and Iron Angels up for sale at $.99 until the end of the year. If anyone out there has been waiting for a discount to get into the series, now's the time! Also, the German edition of Wolfhound will be discounted until then as well. Happy holidays, and I hope you are all doing well.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

On Marcus, Cystic Fibrosis, and Trying to Plan for the Future

So my son was born on Tuesday! Marcus is officially in the world and our family is one person richer. He also likely has cystic fibrosis.

Our current motto
The reason we think that he does is because earlier on in the pregnancy, my wife and I received genetic testing that indicated that both of us carried a gene that leads to the condition. We hadn't had that testing done when Sera was born, so it was a complete surprise to us. Neither of us knows of any cystic fibrosis tendencies in either of our families, but the disease is fairly rare, so I guess that is not surprising.

Cystic fibrosis is basically the unfortunate result of evolution screwing things up in classic style. The genes associated with the disease control a particular protein that is associated with mucus and secretions. Most of the mutations involved make it so that protein just doesn't get made or doesn't get put in the right place. That leads to abnormal mucus development throughout the body, including the lungs, intestinal tract, and reproductive system.

That development results in increased amounts of respiratory infections due to pools of mucus gathering in the lungs, malnutrition since the mucus near the pancreas keep enzymes from helping in digestion, GI blockages due to extra-thick mucus in the intestines and infertility due to blocked channels in the reproductive system. It used to result in frequent deaths in childhood due to these combined problems, but these days they have managed to mitigate a lot of the damage due to early treatment and effective options in terms of transplants, enzyme injections, and respiratory therapy. As a genetic disease, though, it isn't curable. At least, not unless somebody manages to design an effective retrovirus-based gene therapy to counteract the nonfunctional genes.

Marcus ended up having a GI blockage right off the bat, which meant that within twenty four hours of being born, he went through surgery. He's doing very well and is a strong, healthy little guy with a huge chin and a scowl to brag about, but recovery time from the surgery is going to be about eight weeks. The surgery didn't entirely solve the situation, because the bowl had actually been perforated due to the extra sticky crud in his intestinal tract. That meant the doctors had to more or less install a couple of tubes in his stomach to allow them to rehabilitate his lower bowels so that when he's recovered, they can reattach his stomach and upper intestinal tract to his lower intestines again. After that, it's hopefully just another eight weeks in the NICU and then he can come home.

So obviously things have been a little difficult lately. My bosses at work have been extremely understanding, and coworkers, friends, and family have all been extremely supportive. We're still kind of trying to figure out how to balance our lives over the next sixteen weeks; the hospital where Marcus is staying is about an hour and a half away, so seeing him, taking care of Sera, and continuing to work/go to graduate school/write is going to be an interesting challenge. It's tempting to pretty much attempt to live at the hospital, but my wife needs to recuperate from giving birth (the little guy went from water breaking to delivery in two hours, which is absolutely crazy) and life kind of needs to go on despite the drama. In the long term, it's going to be a question of how to figure out a pattern of life that allows me to be a part of my son's life while trying to secure our future as a family at the same time. I doubt it will be easy, but we will just need to get through it.

To everyone who has already expressed their support, we appreciate everything you are doing for us. It might get a little frustrating, because at the moment we are mostly just playing a waiting game. We won't know a lot of details about how fast recovery will be until a little time has gone by--in fact, the tests coming back confirming CF as a diagnosis aren't official yet, we're just basing it off the genetics and the type of GI block he experienced, which is typical of CF--and a lot of what we are doing right now is just trying to be there for the little guy. Your prayers and well-wishing is very much appreciated, and even if we might be a little reclusive, we really are grateful for everything you've said and done. It is just taking us a little while to process things emotionally, and since emotions are not really my strong suit, I hope that you'll be patient with me.

In terms of writing, my schedule's been kind of up in the air since Tuesday. I'm not sure if my previous plans for writing in 2014 are going to work out, but we will see. Eagle and Broken Halo are both still going to be published this year, however. The only thing we are waiting on is cover art for Eagle to be completed, and the artist we are working with on that is already doing a great job. I think I can be confident in saying that both will be up soon.

In any case, I hope that everyone is doing well out there. See you around!