2018 and all that.

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Onward and upward...

I have been very quiet on the writing front for the last few months, as far as blog/journalism is concerned, but I have a cast-iron excuse...

For most of 2017, I was working on a new book which I am really excited about.
The project different from my previous book in many ways, and yet eerily familiar in others.

This time out, the project is a collaboration: I am helping a friend to tell his story. I can't say too much at this stage, except that it is a white-knuckle ride of a tale, that it too involves spinal cord injury, and that it will be published by Penguin in Australia in August/September 2018.

Away from the coal face, or should I say type-face... See what I did there? Clever, huh?
I am feeling pretty settled into a rather slower-paced existence in small-Australian-town-by-the-ocean, although there are certainly times when I miss big-English-city-at-the-centre-of-the-universe.

For starters, I spend a lot more time here dressed in rubber with a tube in my mouth. Snorkeling. I'm talking about snorkeling, of course. Why? What did you think I meant?

Having spectacular scenery the ocean on the doorstep is a profoundly enriching experience, if inevitably bitter-sweet. Sand continues to be my nemesis, and as it's usually between me and the ocean, I am constantly frustrated by the waves reaching out so tantalisingly.

In truth, the sand is not the only barrier to my enjoying the ocean. Bitter experience has led me the realisation that the effect of being in the surf can be recreated at home. All I'd need to do is climb into the washing machine with a bag of sand. The rough and tumble of the waves is made all the more dramatic when you are sat on the sand unable to move your legs. Wave one knocks you onto your back, wave two goes up your nose while you're still trying to get your balance after wave one, and then wave three drives sand into every orifice.

However, there are still some locations along this most beautiful of coastlines where the water is calm and access is possible. And that's when I get to feel the freedom of drifting in the water, suddenly weightless, my legs floating behind and the world is my oyster...

Well, actually an oyster is my oyster, but I don't really like oysters, so that's irrelevant, except the oysters do become relevant when it comes to getting in and out of the water, and that's where the wetsuit comes in. I have customised mine to include an extra layer of neoprene in the seat so that I can drag myself over rocks and sand with relative impunity.

And if anyone tells you I'm wearing the wetsuit because I can't deal with the cold water, I'll deny it, of course.

So, we're we're into March, and I'm still thinking about what my resolutions for 2018 should be.
Go with the flow probably sums it up. I will update this blog more often, and give it a facelift soon. But that said, it's taken me nearly three months to finally post this, so don't hold your breath.

What I have been doing for the last few weeks is trying to get off one of my pain medications. It's called Gabapentin, and it's been in the news a lot of late, which reports of people taking it recreationally, which I really don't get. The first time I took it twelve years ago, I was away with the fairies for about twelve hours, but that effect soon abated.

In trying to get off one of the drugs I've been on for twelve years, I am confronted with the reality of living with chronic pain. It gets worse for various reasons, but never falls below a base level, and the accumulated effect of sleep disturbance can seriously affect cognitive function and mood. This what led me to go back onto the stuff after ten days, or more accurately ten nights, when even sleepers had little effect beyond the first hour and a half. Interestingly, I did have more dreams during the few hours of sleep I snatched over the course of a week and they were really vivid too, which is a worry as it makes me wonder if the Gabapentin is shutting down that most creative part of my brain or affecting my memory.

I do share concerns that many others have expressed about Gabapentin and it concerns me that I've been on the stuff (as well as amitriptyline, the single most difficult drug to spell) for so long that I can't help but wonder what effect it has had on me in waking hours  as well as when I'm asleep.

I will continue to explore other options once I've had a review of my neurological condition, which hasn't been done for many years, but for now the focus is on being productive when I'm relatively awake, and basketball which, while it hurts for hours afterwards, seems to trigger an endorphin that can reduce my base pain levels for several days after.

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