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Thursday, April 4, 2013


The blog is moving.
Thanks to all of you who followed along, or stumbled on these four years of writing. 

I no longer intend on posting here or updating this site, but you're welcome to join me over at my new blog:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Project 42: Chapter 8

Below are chapters 3-4 of the still currently untitled novel for Project 42.
Yes, it is riddled with typos, spelling mistakes, and grammar mistakes.
November is for writing. Editing I'll save for later.
You can still follow the entire story on Google Docs.

Chapter 8: Show him sympathy

I fell asleep again, and when I woke I could not move. At all. I was paralyzed. My eyesight was no better. At least the bedsheets were warm. The room seemed quiet. I tried to move my mouth. I was still breathing fine, but found it very difficult to make a sound. All I could do was pray and wait.

Father God, who art in Heaven
Hallowed be your name
Your kingdom come, Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven

God, please help me to be the person you want me to be
so that you can work through me on this earth
Lord, I can reach out to so many people
I want to continue serving my church, go on missions trip
Why have you struck me down will illness
that I cannot see, or even move?
Lord, heal me, or at least tell me why
Tell me why I deserve this pain
Tell me why my life has to go down like this
Why my friends, parents, have to suffer
Why there must be so much pain

In your Son’s holy name


Dr. Tonkin, or at least someone who stepped and breathed like him, came into my room not too longer after I had woken up. Ben followed, and talked first,

“Al, How are you doing?” I made a noise that was a cross between a muffled squeal and a cough. I heard some scribbling. “We’ve got some tough news for you.” He paused. I wondered if he was waiting for a response from me, but I was exhausted from my previous reply. He’d have to live with silence.

“Um, from the spinal tap, we’ve identified that you have a Staphylococcal meningitis that is causing encephalitis - it’s an acute bacterial inflammation of the brain.”

Dr. Tonkin continued, “I’m putting you on an antibiotic treatment, starting with ceftriaxone and gentamicin. They’ll be administered by IV. Ceftriaxone is a cephalosporin antibiotic that also has neuroprotective activity, so I hope you’ll be able to start moving again sometime soon.”

He asked the nurse - I didn’t know the nurse was in the room - to hook me up to the IV drip, as they prepared me for the treatment. I wondered how long the treatment would be. I was unable to ask anyone. But Ben seemed to read my mind.

“We’ll try this out for a 48 hours, seeing if any of the symptoms subside. Staph can be a tough bug to crack nowadays, but we’re starting with some good third-generation cephalosporins, so we hope to wipe this out as soon as we can.” I made out croaking-like sound to acknowledge my thanks for him. He stayed with me for a while, laying his hand on my shoulder, but was soon called to another patient and I was once again left alone.

I thought of all that had happened so far, though my thoughts were becoming increasingly muddled. I hoped Helvetia was doing okay, and that her... - father...? or brother? - in the coma was still okay. I wondered if they already held a funeral yet, both for Helvetia’s family, and my fellowship friends, and Ronda. And where were my parents? Did they die in some accident in Italy and were just burried in some obscure location. Or were they still alive, being help ransom by dim-witted crooks that couldn’t execute a proper ransom threat.

But when I thought back to me, I got increasing angry. I was sure that God was targeting me - directly taking away my parents, families, and girlfriend. I also lost the family car, and burnt down the apartment. Aside from getting sued and charged for millions in personal and property damages, I now had no home, no one to take care of me except the doctor, Ben, and the nurse. Thank God for Canadian health care. I did still have a room that I had leased nearby McMaster University in Hamilton, but I’m not sure what would happen to my masters. It was only a year-long program, and my medical school acceptance could only be deffered for a maximum of a year. I was already losing a big chunk of my masters; would I be able to finish on time?

Of course, all this assumed that I would get better soon. What if part of me stayed paralyzed, or my eyesight was never fully restored. Would Cambridge let me continue medical school? What else would I do with my life? All of these thoughts were making me tired. Or maybe it was the drug, or whatever they were feeding me through the drip.


The next twenty-four hours were torture. Breathing was uncomfortable, and I felt so alone. I was kept in constant worry, about my own health, my parents, Helvetia. I prayed and prayed for the torture to cease, but the IV kept running and I kept breathing.

There was much time to think of my situation. After sporadic naps, my mind was getting a bit clearly, and I swore my fingers were starting to wriggle if I tried. Of course, they only felt like they were wriggling. The dense clouds in my eyes still refused to go away.

My ability to speak returned to me. But I still had no one to talk to. Ben was off for the weekend, and I was left without anyone else. The only other bed in the room was empty. I think doctors were concerned about the possibility of resistant forms of Staph aureus, and wanted to contain it as much as they could. I had no visitors throughout Saturday, perhaps because I had no one who wanted to visit me. Or maybe everyone was scared of infection, and no one wanted to risk sharing my misery.

But on Sunday morning I was greeted with a surprise. I heard the familiar voice of Ben.

“Aren’t you off for the weekend?”

“Yes - but I’m back to see you as a visitor!” My heart was warmed. “And I brought another visitor!”

“Al - I’m so sad to see you like this.” Her voice was soft and musical. I’d heard it before, but who?

“I know your voice.”, I said. Who was this? While I was filled with compassion, I was also upset. Why would Ben suddenly bring people to see me? I didn’t want people to see me in this state of weakness! And yet, I felt so lonely. Everyone I loved had left me. God wasn’t responding. I suppose this was all I had now.

“Here’s a hint”. She hummed the tune of a familiar piece... a Tchaikovsky piano concerto. We played this in the orchestra last year!

“Cathy?” Our pianist.

“Haha, you got me. I heard about everything through the school grapevine. And I know Ben from volunteering. He was talking about how one of his patients was just going so much pain, and asked if I could help to pray for them. I put two and two together and asked if the patient’s name was Al. I came with Ben to see if we could cheer you up!”

At first happy, I could feel my anger emerging. Didn’t Ben know about patient confidentiality by now? And cheer me up? I needed to find my parents, that would cheer me up. My girlfriend had left me, my friends were dead. But before resorting to a sarcastic remark, I calmed myself down and just said “could you just give me some time alone please?”

“Come on Al! I brought you CD. It’s our recording from last year.” I didn’t have much of an option as she stuck into a stereo that presumably she brought. It was Stravinsky’s Firebird, a Russian ballet of a bird that was initially trapped by later freed. I think Cathy choose it to encourage me, but my feelings of freedom were disappearing. I felt bound, stuck to the bed, trapped by the deaths of loved ones. Trapped by God. The pain was too much, I didn’t to sit here in my friends’ pity. This was not living.

As the finale started with the triumphant brass melody, I told them to stop the tape.

“Stop it?” asked Ben.

“Yes. I have something to say.”

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Project 42:7

Chapter 7: Seven Days and Seven Nights