A Bitter Pill

Today I took another spill in my wheel chair, landing on my stump. You have no idea how much that hurts. This is my second wheel chair spill. This time I thought I was on the good part of the asphalt where there were no potholes. It was downhill but not too steep. Still, something caused my chair to stop suddenly and I went flying. The pain was severe, I yelled in pain. A guy came out of his room at the motel I am staying at and he and his brother helped me back in my chair. I didn’t find out till later that the Y connector where the wound vac tubes that come from my leg feed into a tube leading to the machine was broken and the seal was leaking air. I ended up having to call a nurse in around 8PM to help me fix the problem.

While she was there she went over the pictures of my wound. She is the supervisor over the other nurses that see me. She has years of experience in the wound care field. And looking at my wound pictures, she said I was looking at at least a year to heal.

After all, my wound has gotten bigger in six months not smaller. And I am dealing with lots of pain. It prevents me from getting a decent night’s sleep.

As I said earlier, my doctor wants to amputate above the knee. He thinks the bone is infected. But I need to do an MRI to be sure or a biopsy, neither has been done,

I see him Tuesday and I will have to make a decision, stay on the course I’ve been on which has not been yielding much results, or have the amputation and realize that it will be a lot harder to walk again. In either case it won’t happen this year it looks like. So I am stuck in the wheel chair for now.

And that means I risk my body being so used to being in the chair position I won’t be able to stand straight without a lot of painful therapy.

It’s not a happy subject and to make matters worse, I have been out of work since October and am looking to possibly have a longer haul ahead of me. I can’t continue staying here in Temple, so I will have to decide next week which course to take. Try to stay in Austin or go back to San Diego. Either option has many problems for me to solve.

Who said my life was boring?

The Quantum Terror

I’m happy to announce I’m working on a small film project as script editor/doctor. The film is by a talented Austin based film maker, Christopher Moonlight who also has some connection with the comics biz. He just had a long discussion about the first draft, The film met it’s funding goals on Indy Go Go and we’re hard at work on pre-production.

It’s a horror film with Lovecraftian elements and Christopher is very adept at practical effects. I’m excited to be involved. Here’s the Indygogo page so you can watch his videos. If you are interested in investing we are still seeking funds. Thanks!

Age of Heroes: Heaven’s War Prologue

I will be posting chapters from my upcoming books here and there. It will spur me on to write faster, I think. Especially of you guys ask for them. Here is the opening of my sequel to Hell’s Reward. Enjoy.

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“To accept reality is to deal with pain. That is why so many people live in the lands of delusion.”
Antiphontas, Age of Wonders philosopher

Prologue:

There are many ways to commit suicide. The worst ones are when you’re not even trying.

Why did she let herself into this fiasco?

She was on her way to find Drake, to warn him about the Night guild putting a bounty on his head. But on the way out of Lys she ran into Myco the Deft. And he told her how she could score some serious coin if she’d lend a hand to Myco and his crew. It’s a job up the road she’d be taking anyway, so why not? Easy pickings.

The job was supposed to be simple. A caravan would come along that Myco knew was holding some serious treasures. Using his tricks of deception and misdirection, he would keep the guards away from the goods long enough for this crew to get in and make a quick extraction. 

And Myco was good. She’d known him for six years. He worked mainly out of Lys, but moved around like many in the trade. Normally she wouldn’t bother with a caravan job. She didn’t do raids or highway robbery. But Myco didn’t use violence. He was a stealth artist. This would be more like a snatch and grab. She didn’t trust too many people but she trusted Myco’s skills and his mates were known to her.

There was Exl the Ghost. Ever the quiet one, a man of few words, he was a legend for getting into places unseen. Dellas of Umber was a mistress of locks. No safe had ever given her pause, they say. And finally, Mad Jonas may have seemed a nutter to the straights, but he was crazy like a fox. His plans worked like they were blessed, yet they were often as mad as his name implied. He always saw things from an angle no sane person would consider. And some say he had the sight, and knew things others couldn’t guess.

Why they needed her, Reyne didn’t know, but they were good enough company and she could always use some extra coin.

They camped ten miles from Illun, expecting the caravan to pass this way. They chose a hill with a crown of trees, overlooking the road, so they could stay hidden yet see what passed below. They didn’t unpack much gear and didn’t light any fire. When the caravan made camp on their own, they’d be able to swoop in and do their work and leave before anyone knew they’d been robbed. 

Myco knew a good spot nearby the caravan would probably use to spend the night. It was highly unlikely the caravan wouldn’t stay in town. Mad Jonas has been tracking their progress and said the spot below was a perfect place for them to stop for the night. Myco trusted Jonas insight, as odd as it sounded at times. So they waited out the hours, snacking on food, prepping their tools, and getting ready to go to work.  

Dellas brought out a bag of dried fruits and passed it around.

“Twelve wagons was the last report, with six out riders for security. Seems a bit light, don’t it, Myco?”

“They must have some blades riding in the wagons. Can’t all be on horse, Dellas.”

“You said there’d be treasure. Why so few guards?” Reyne said as she sliced up an apple from her pack. “Seems to me, there’d be a lot more if they had valuables.”

“We’ll know the scope of it once Exl has a go at them. He’ll saavy the situation and make a report before we swoop in.”

“Aye.” Exl nodded.

Jonas sat in the trees watching the road. They’d been there for four hours and he never took a break. Suddenly he got up and came over, smiling.

“They’ll be here in fifteen minutes or so.”

He stretched and scratched his arse.

“Don’t know how he does that.” Dellas mused.

“Jonas sees far.” He laughed.

“If you see so good maybe you can tell us what’s inside those wagons.” Reyne said before chewing on an apple slice.

“Lots of items bound for the Castle. Lots of strange items Jonas doesn’t understand.” He shrugged. “But they have to be worth somethin’ fer tis not the first caravan of this type. Oh, no.”

“What castle?” Dellas frowned.

“The castle of Karas Undar. Much has been going to the castle of late. Aye.”

“That old Unwen ruin? Why?”

“It’s being rebuilt and stocked. Many caravans ‘sides this one have been goin’ there from all corners of the realm.”

“But why? Who’s paying for it?”

Myco cut in. “It’s a big mystery, but the kingdoms don’t seem concerned. Whoever’s behind it has greased a lot of palms. And that means, whatever’s in those wagons has to be worth stealing.”

That’s when Reyne started to get the feeling this may have been a mistake.

She wasn’t wrong and knew it soon after the caravan rolled into the clearing.

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From Heaven’s War. © 2015 James Hudnall, All Rights Reserved
Publication TBD, hopefully this winter

Not the Best News, But I’m Soldiering On

So last Friday I went in for an overdue debridement, That’s where they cut away dead tissue so the healthy tissue can grow back. I had some in my leg that needed removing because the wound wasn’t healing. I went in expecting to go home not long after the operation. They put me under for it and I woke up to have the doctor tell me I had tunneling all the way to the bone and he thinks they will have to amputate above the knee. He thought the bone was infected and that’s why my stump isn’t healing properly. Instead of going home, I had to stay the weekend in the hospital. Not something I enjoyed, I can tell you, though the Temple hospital is nice enough.

On Monday I told the doctor I wanted to wait till next week before they operate because I needed to think about it. I consulted with two other doctors following my case from afar. One of them had questions I put to my doctor here.

Was the bone infected or not? If not I didn’t want to lose the leg. My doctor here admitted he didn’t do a culture or a biopsy. So he doesn’t know for sure that its infected. So I want to wait a week or so and see if my leg starts healing properly or not. If not I may lose the leg, but I don’t want to rush into it.

The problem is I’m running out of money. I’ve been out of work six months with no income coming in to speak of save for the Gofundme fund and help from the Hero Initiative. I can’t work because I have to stay here in this small town where the central Texas VA hospital is and there is no work for me here, plus I am house bound at present. I am writing but there will be no immediate money there. I don’t have any writing gigs, I’m just working on my novels. And social security has denied me disability over some technicality and are bragging out their decision over whether I am going to get any other benefits. So I am in a weird sort of limbo, hoping my leg heals, not knowing what I’ll be doing next month, if I will be staying in Texas or moving back to California (it depends on if I can afford to stay or not). I’ve been out of work six months and I want to work. But I can’t. I can’t even bring groceries in the door when I come back from the supermarket. My life has been upended.

I just know that I can’t give up or feel sorry for myself, or get angry, drunk, whatever. It won’t do any good and will only make things worse. I hate asking people for money but I have to, until I can make some or something changes for me, and it’s frustrating. I came to Texas because of opportunity and a chance to start a new life for myself. Things did not work out that way. Disaster happened instead, The last time I tried something like that as when I went to Washington to help a friend with a startup and I am still recovering from that decision, but at least it was only money and stuff I lost that time. I sure could use a break. All I can do is keep trying and trust me, I will. Too stubborn to give up.

Thank you, all of you who helped me or just follow my story and care enough to keep interested. It means a lot. It looks like I won’t be walking when convention season starts, I will be in a wheel chair no matter what happens for most of the year. But I am determined to walk again.

In the meantime, I could really use your help getting through this month. Every little donation helps. I am pinching my pennies. But it isn’t always possible. Today I had to take a cab to the store and that set me back $29 in cab fare. Living in motels ate up a lot of my fund the first month. And my bill still got to get paid. I promise I won’t forget your help and if someday you need my help and I can do something, I will. This whole experience has been humbling but also life affirming. I feel more connected to the industry than I have when I was working in it.

And this has gotten me working on several things I hope will be gainfully employing me in the near future. if you can spare some money, I really, really, really appreciate it. Thank you. Here’s my paypal donate button.





Another Month of Healing

I still have a ways to go on my leg wound so it looks like I will be staying in Temple thru most of April. It is healing but the size of the wound has gotten bigger while the depth has become shallower. I have less pain now so that’s a blessing but I would sure love to get off the wound vac. It’s bad enough being in a wheel chair.

Anyway, it’s about two years since my best friend Toren Smith passed and I miss him every day. So many things I would have loved to have talked to him about and can’t anymore. He used to be amazed how I bounced back from adversity. If only he could see me now.

Toren-hud-87

The Gall of It!

So today I went over to the VA hospital across the street, this time for something other than my leg. I mentioned to my doctor on my last visit that in 2008 when looking for kidney stones they did an ultrasound and found I had large gall stones. But it has never bothered me. The doc wanted a followup ultrasound, so I wheeled myself over there this morning.

Since the Temple VA is on the slope of a hill crossing the street means I have to go downhill to the intersection to cross then uphill to the hospital which sits back a ways from the entrance. When you’re in a wheel chair you’re pushing your own mass, your own body weight plus the weight of the chair. For me that means pushing 300 pounds up a hill. I can do it but it’s work. Fortunately some nice guy jumped out of his car and wheeled me up most of the way today. Usually I have to do it myself.

So, they did the ultrasound and confirmed I have two very large stones and one smaller one in there. Based on the conversation I had with the doc last time, he will recommend I get an operation that removes the gall bladder. They don’t take it out, they just do a small probe and cut the part where the bladder is connected to the liver. What that will do is make it so I can’t eat fatty foods anymore without incurring diarrhea. It will force me to forgo them. Not that I eat them that much but I do love the occasional bacon and eggs breakfast.

I see the doctor again on Tuesday so we’ll see what he says but me made it sound as if I should do it because someday I will have a problem and it’s a very unpleasant experience when you have gall stone issues.

Oh, and they said I have a kidney stone, too. Joy.

Fun fun fun! How was your day?

Biding My Time

Healing from my leg wound is a long slow process, and its coming along but the days are ticking by. I haven’t worked since October, mainly because I am house bound for all intents and purposes and can’t interview for jobs other than by teleconference. Temple is a small town so there are no web developer jobs here. I am looking at April at the earliest before I can get back to looking for work. So the donations I have received from my fund and the help of theHero Initiative has kept me going. I can’t appreciate it enough.

When March comes to a close I will have to start worrying about finding a place to live again and figuring out how to get by until I get back into the work force. Until then I am working on my two novels and doing my best to keep my spirits up, I have a nurse come and see me three times a week and I made a couple of friends around here tough I don’t see them much. It’s been a long lonely time, but that god for the internet and Facebook. I can keep in touch with people that way and of course, by phone.

There is also the possibility of remote work. That’s where I can work from wherever I have an internet connection. More of those types of jobs re becoming a reality which is great. I hope to land one if I can.

Meanwhile, I hope to have some good news soon on a project. More on that later.

Vonnegut on the Shape of Stories

People are laughing in this video but legendary author Kurt Vonnegut is right on the money. This is how most stories are “shaped”. What separates the good from the bad is the way it’s finessed. Pacing is critical to the success of a narrative but also, believably. Does the reader buy what you are selling them?

Healing Progress

So, many of you who have read about my foot amputation and healing have only, up to now, imagined what that entailed. I figured some of you would be interested in pictures so you could see the progress from start till now, as its taken months. I lost my foot on Halloween and it’s still healing. Part of this is due to complications which I will detail below. So here are the pictures. WARNING: They are pretty intense so I am only making them visible from links. If you don’t like gory stuff don’t click because it’s ugly. This is what I have been dealing with all this time.

So this first picture is of my foot before the first operation. They tried to save it at first. You can see how red my leg is from infection and under those bandages were huge pus blisters. I’ll spare you that shot but this is our starting point. My foot became infected because I had an ulcer on it that started as a blister and didn’t heal due to diabetes. It was healing but it took months and while I took care to clean it everyday and bandage it, it still got infected some how. The infection had turned septic which means it got in my blood and I was close to death before I check myself into the hospital. I just thought I was sick from something. Because I had waited too long the infection had progressed enough that it was shutting down my organs. If I waited another day I might have died. This is why you should not put off the doctor if you have a serious sickness. I was so weak when I checked myself in I could barely get out of a chair.

The docs operated on my foot, cutting away dead tissue and you can see all that black meat inside is also dead. My foot was too far gone at this point. Those blisters are of puss and there were more than you can see here.

So I told the doc it was ok to take my foot. It was the source of my infection, and it had got into my bones. if it wasn’t removed it would have infected the rest of me and I could not risk that. This is what the amputation looked like afterward. They sew a skin flap from your leg over to cover the cut and it heals eventually with little scarring. Provided there are no complications, it should heal in a month.

Of course, the day I got out of the hospital I fell on my stump in my landlady’s garage as I was trying to get inside the house. I transferred to a walker they gave me which was a piece of junk and lost my balance. I fell on concrete. It surprisingly didn’t hurt but I bruised some ribs. However, it caused the dreaded complications afterward when I had my dressing changed I saw this necrotic tissue. And deep inside the leg tunneling started which are big gaps that fill with dead blood that becomes clots. I needed another operation.

So this is after the first operation. They cut away all the dead flesh. Inside you see white gunk which is also dying flesh and that had to be cut away in a second procedure. Notice how big the hole in my leg is. What isn’t easy to see here is the tunnels. But they were three inches deep and went in different directions. They had to heal from the inside before I could get this closed up again.

So they cut that stuff out and put me on a wound vac. It’s a small device attached to a tube that goes to the would which is sealed in a clear plastic. It sucks out all the fluids and dead blood to keep the would fresh. This little machine runs 24/7 and goes with me everywhere but it cuts healing time in half. The doctor said I was looking at 3-4 more months without it. And there was always the risk of more infection. The wound vac sucks away all the fluids that were at risk of getting infected. A nurse comes by three times a week to change the dressing so the seal is kept clean and tight.

She came today but I forgot to take a picture of where it is now. I will post that on Friday so you can see how far I have come. I am happy to say the tunneling has closed up and the would has shrunk. It’s still about 7×4 centimeters but it’s pink and looking good. Come back for the update on Friday if you are interested.

I suspect I will have to be here another month or so before its all healed. We’ll see. Then my next step is to try to get a prosthetic foot so I can get out of this wheel chair and walk again.

What I really hate is I have been out of work all this time and can’t apply for any jobs until I am healed because I am stuck in this small town where there are no jobs for what I do (Internet Developer). Fortunately people have donated generously to my fund and that has allowed me to pay my bills and stay off the streets and fed. The Hero Initiative has paid for my motel costs for these two months I will be staying here and that has been a huge help.

I will probably be unable to work till April and then I will also have to somehow find a place to live, so I can still use some help. Anything you can do is a blessing and is much appreciated. Thank you.

Catching Up

Since I have moved to my temporary digs in Temple, TX I’ve been catching up on my sleep mostly. This is the first day I didn’t take a nap. Yesterday I had two of them. It’s great to be able to sleep without interruption and be able to take my pain meds when I need them and not on a dose scheduled. Yes, I follow directions but I do need them at night. My leg aches like hell sometimes.

Meanwhile, I’ve also been working on my late novels. Working out plot elements and scenes. They are more complicated than my first book and I was cavalier about setting release dates before I even got into them. Hopefully people will feel the wait was worth it,

I am also talking to a publisher or two interested in collecting my library of work which I am happy to see happen. More on that later.

Dan Brereton and I are looking to do a 25th anniversary of the Psycho tribute book. We’re talking to artists and will be making more announcements soon, I hope.

And finally I am excited to report I secured a booth at San Diego Comicon International this year. I hope to make it an annual thing.

Back from Waco

I’ve been offline for over six weeks mainly because the place I was living, the VA CLC in Waco, TX (CLC = Community Living Center) did not have Wifi or Internet except for the staff. Such a strange six weeks it was too.

As I outlined before, I lost my foot on Halloween due to an infection and have been getting medical care since while it heals. I had complications with the wound and had to get regular, even daily wound care. Since I was out of work and homeless to boot, the CLC was a place I could stay and get the help I needed for awhile. I needed to stop bleeding money paying for motel rooms while I was looking for a place to live. I spent so much time at the VA I never found a place, and I couldn’t work because I was seeing doctors all the time. The CLC was a way to keep me off the streets and get care.

But it’s not a resort. The Waco CLC is a nursing care home in an old 1950s building where they have vets who need nursing care and they threw in mental health patents as well, so it was like being in an institution with bad food (make that horrible) and hard beds which you rarely got to sleep in anyway because they were always coming around to check on you, give you meds, take your vitals, etc. It was considered a hospital to the staff, but they also had different programs there and a kind of rec room of sorts. The staff was nice but that was only one of the few rays of sunshine there. The VA was not spending much money on these vets care. Many of them had lost their mind in Vietnam. Or were disabled. I was hardly the only amputee there.

I wanted out almost as soon as I got there but I knew I had to take my lumps because I needed the care. But I found I couldn’t eat the food and the lack of sleep was making me really long for a real bed and peace and quiet. The staff and patients were always yelling in the halls and one guys only means of communication was screaming incoherently. He would do that a lot at meal time in the room where they fed us and had to be fed like a baby by a nurse. Other people left TVs on loudly all night in their rooms. Or they had huge hacking coughs or they would babble stuff to themselves. The first three days I was there I was in a room with a blind and deaf paranoid 80+ year old man who constantly talked when he wasn’t sleeping and you had to yell to communicate with him. He would get mad if you asked him not to talk because you needed sleep. He would just talk more and the stuff he said was absolutely nuts.

Fortunately, people have been helping me by donating to my fund and a charity called the Hero Initiative is also helping me with the costs of getting a motel room in a long term stay place across from the Temple, Texas VA hospital. So yesterday I got out of the CLC and into my new one bedroom where I have a little kitchen and a living room and it’s quiet and peaceful. I still have at least a month or more of healing to do. So I need to stay here until then. I can’t get a prosthetic foot and walk again until I heal. At least now I can relax and get back online. I have plenty of time to work on my novels.

If you want to help me by donating to my fund so I can pay some bills or buy food here’s the link. Or please support the Hero Initiative who have been great.

Thanks to everyone who has helped me to date, I am so grateful you have no idea. I feel blessed despite my many hardships.

Things are Improving

It’s been a while since my last blog post. Since then I discovered my job ended due to something unrelated to me or my stay in the hospital. And to be honest, I couldn’t have kept it up anyway because I’ve spent so much time with doctors in the time I’ve been out of the hospital. In fact, my leg needs almost daily wound care for the time being so I am checking into a long term facility in Waco by the VA where I will get care and can heal up. It will also keep me off the streets for over a month and save me all those motel bills.

My fund has been depleted by cab fares and motel stays as I didn’t even have time to look for a place and couldn’t check tem out if I wanted to. I didn’t have the means as I can’t drive currently. But fortunately I have also been accepted by Metro Access so I can get inexpensive transport to appointments by the city’s disabled transport service. It’s hard to get into so I am relieved I was accepted.

I feel good and I think I am getting better. Despite the one area on my leg that they’re watching most of it is healing nicely. So I hope it will be healed up in a few weeks or so. And hopefully I will get the rehab I need so I can get a prosthetic limb in a couple months and start walking again.

Naturally, being out of work for another month will cut into my funds even more, and I will need money to get a place when I get out but at least I won’t have to pay for my stay in Waco.

As I have from the start I remain committed to getting back on my feet and back to work as soon as possible. My attitude has remained positive and this whole experience has been valuable for my character development. It has really opened my eyes about what its like to be handicapped and dependent on people. I have always been a fiercely independent person but some people don’t have that luxury. I have learned that through this experience. It is teaching me a lot and helped me appreciate many things a lot more. My friends have really been a great help as has the comics community. Thanks to all who have supported my cause.

Homeless and Jobless

Here’s the latest on my situation. I got out of the hospital on Thursday. That day I had got the word that my job was gone, They decided to close the project I was on and said they will hire me when they start another but they don’t know when that will be. And because I am in a wheel chair I can’t live in my old place so I am currently living in motels trying to find somewhere to live, that’s affordable and accessible in Austin. I don’t doubt I will be working again. My skills are in demand. But I have to find a place to stay soon before my money runs out.

It’s ironic, I came to Austin from San Diego in September for a job I thought was going to last a while. I came here to start fresh. Well, I guess the second part is true. Starting in a strange town where I know so few people and being disabled is a new one and a daunting challenge. But those are the cards I’ve been dealt.

All I can do is keep looking and hope for the best. I can’t say how much I appreciate the support I’ve been given by so many people. You have my undying thanks.