Welcome to Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing! It’s that time each week when I offer writing wisdom gained from 15 years as a columnist who, until recently, has remained completely hernia-free! It’s a feature the American Journal of Medicine is calling, “Writing advice that gets results as quickly as bending over and coughing…” or what Dr. Oz has touted as “The only place I haven’t stuck my face yet. And by that I mean his blog, not pelvic area…”
But enough accolades!
As I’ve mentioned before, writing can be a dangerous business, particularly for columnists who find themselves coughing uncontrollably from a seated position. As much as I’d like to say I got my femoral hernia after a tap-out while dragging firehose into a burning structure, or because I’m an amazing lover, the truth is it happened while I was sitting exactly where I am — during a bad coughing fit. I’ve been nursing this cough for about a month, which began with a high fever at the end of my vacation in August. Naturally, I assumed it was just my body’s way of preparing to return to work.
Besides, as my wife knows, “I never get sick!”
These words are already being chiseled into my tombstone.
If I do get sick, I let nature take its course and rarely use medicine, avoid antibiotics as much as possible and refuse to take flu shots. That way, when influenza eventually evolves into an unstoppable pandemic thanks to the tolerance it’s built from overusing flu vaccinations, I can add “I told you so” to my tombstone.
But in this case, and unbeknownst to me, my stubbornness led to the early stages of a bronchial infection that has been using a deep cough to help expedite removal of the infection in my lungs — or in layman’s terms, I’ve been hacking up something similar to tapioca. And yes, I realize I can say goodbye to any Jell-O pudding endorsements now.
So what does any of this have to do with my Nickels Worth on Writing? It was at this same time last week, while sitting in the newsroom and typing my NWOW, that one particular coughing fit caused a shift that I figured could only mean one of three things:
1) I’m carrying a child
2) I have a tapeworm
3) I never should’ve eaten that second chimichanga for dinner
It wasn’t until later that night, after I stepped out of the shower and saw the bulge, I had to admit to myself that nature had been more than fair. But right above that (I’ll pause here for eye rolling) was another, smaller bulge near my pelvic area that hadn’t been there before. On Monday, the doctor confirmed what I suspected and told me it was one of the largest bulges she’s seen, and that the other thing is definitely a hernia (Remember: some of us deal with our pain through laughter, and this isn’t the first time my bulge has been laughed at). In all seriousness, the infection caused the coughing, which led to my hernia and, in turn, has spiked my blood pressure.
So now I’m on…
…antibiotics and an inhaler for the next two weeks.
Does this mean I’m going to stop writing until I’m better? (Physically, not as a writer.) Of course not! Does it mean I’m going to stand up from my desk whenever I need to cough? You know it! In fact, I’m trying to convince my editor that the best solution would be for me to just stand while I write. Possibly at a table in a nearby tavern. So far, she’s not buying it. The again, I haven’t coughed on her yet.
In the meantime, I realize this week’s NWOW isn’t much on writing advice. Although there is a lesson, which is that as a writer you need to be persistent. You can’t allow things to get in the way of your writing. In short: writers must be like a hernia and keep pushing through.
Because I feel like all of you are family (even the guy still wearing the Members Only jacket), I wanted to keep you posted on what’s going on. When I’m healthy again in a week or two, I’ll be sending everyone something special.
I promise it won’t be tapioca.
By the way, on a more writerly note, I will once again be at the Festival of Books here in Florence, Ore., tomorrow and reading from my book at 11:50 a.m. For those of you in Australia and the U.K., you are excused from coming because of that whole “body of water” thing. But for the rest, if you start now you can still make it.
Honestly, do you want to miss out on THIS kind of excitement?
I’ll be posting live updates… while standing, of course.