I’ve Gang Agley

Kage Baker never missed a convention due to illness.

She did miss a signing due to simply forgetting, and going off to Faire instead. That is, in fact, more or less why she never missed anything again – when you come home in the middle of the night and find a note from the local police asking you to call your agent (who thinks you’re dead), it scars you for life. I can laugh about this now, but Kage never, ever found it amusing.

Even when she was too ill to walk, she honoured her appearance commitments. Literally on the eve of her hysterectomy, she insisted on attending the World Fantasy Awards. She was up for an award, which she did not get; but we had a wonderful time. I ran her all over the Convention in her wheel chair, Neassa kept her supplied with chocolates, and she dispensed them from a vintage papier-mache jack o’lantern on her lap. We had a wonderful time racing around corners and clipping pedestrians in the halls. Several self-righteous people demanded to know what she had done to herself: Kage derived a lot of satisfaction from announcing cheerfully, “I have cancer!” and watching their faces crumple up as they tried to think of something to say.

We had a hilarious, slightly naughty, totally care-free time of it. The only thing to do when you are on your way to what turns  out to be be your penultimate appearance, is to party madly. I have happy memories of Kage ordering “Home, Rasputin!”  as I wheeled her backwards down a hotel hall (anyone remember Bewitched?) and she and Neassa distracted the crowds by throwing Snickers bars at them.

Of course, Kage had minions. And didn’t have to drive, not even her own wheelchair. And, although she was harboring Death itself in her belly, she wasn’t sick sick. She maintained control of her bodily functions and her wits.

This Thursday night, as I packed happily for BayCon, I abruptly developed vertigo. It was like nothing I have ever felt before – not a little dizziness on standing up too soon, or the majestic cosmic wheel that lets you know you have drunk one pint too many; no, this felt like my eyeballs were turning round and round in opposite directions. It got worse and worse, then a headache started, and when both reached their peak – I started throwing up.

I kept throwing up, too, for an interminable time. I think I threw up everything I’d eaten for the last week, and possibly a few feet of my upper intestine. The vomiting finally stopped; but the nausea, the headache and the vertigo continued for the next three days.

This is a rotten way to spend a holiday weekend. I’ve been mostly asleep since then – I wake up every few hours to cautiously take necessary pills, then go back to sleep. My diet consists of Gatorade Ice – the kind with lots of electrolytes and more colour than flavour – and rare attempts at mashed potatoes. I’m not enjoying any of it, but Kimberly insists that it is at least preventing me from dying of malnutrition in my sleep.

Personally, I’d rather die in my sleep than feel like this.

It may be gastritis. It may be a new kind of migraine. It may have been a minor, micro-stroke. Insane amounts of my blood are being analyzed for all sorts of pathogens and exotic markers, and I am taking something called Pantoprazole. I think it sounds like I’m a character in a vaudeville skit – the rear end of a horse, probably – but it’s apparently meant to reduce digestive acid. I haven’t thrown up since Friday, so … it must work on something.

Obviously, I am not at BayCon. I regret this hugely, and I apologize for anyone who hoped to meet me there. While Michael and Neassa would have been willing to see through this, I couldn’t have made it up there in the first place. And I’d have felt horrible, being wheeled around puking on people.

All Kage did was throw “fun-sized” microscopic chocolate bars. She had more class than I do.

Back to bed now, Dear Readers. I shall resume when I can sit up for another 20 minutes.


About Kate

I am Kage Baker's sister. Kage was/is a well-known science fiction writer, who died on January 31, 2010. She told me to keep her work going - I'm doing that. This blog will document the process.
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9 Responses to I’ve Gang Agley

  1. Tom Barclay says:

    I am fretting about this latest Adventure In Healthcare for you, but am immensely grateful you got help and stayed home. Spinning the prayer wheel for you and other friends (known and unknown) these days.


  2. Mark says:

    So you’re going to the V & A this extreme Christmas to play the Widow Twanky?


  3. Kate says:

    At the moment, even that feels beyond me. The back end of a horse, as I said, is about my speed right now …


    • Hi –
      I have been following you now and then for some time and since I am a direct person who really
      cares about people I will say the following: It’s time to let your sister go.

      You have your own obvious talents, perhaps even writing, and while I have no idea what is wrong
      with you it does sound like a vicious migraine. If I am right, your obsession with your sister and
      obvious need to somehow “take her place and keep her alive” may be pushing you into places
      where a deep part of you no longer wishes to go.

      I am totally ignorant of so many things that I don’t even have the right to reply to this.

      For your information:

      Common triggers quoted are stress, hunger, and fatigue (these equally contribute to tension headaches).[48] Psychological stress has been reported as a factor by 50 to 80% of people.[51] Migraines have also been associated with post-traumatic stress disorder and abuse.[52] Migraines are more likely to occur around menstruation.[51] Other hormonal influences, such as menarche, oral contraceptive use, pregnancy, perimenopause, and menopause, also play a role.[53] These hormonal influences seem to play a greater role in migraine without aura.[42] Migraines typically do not occur during the second and third trimesters or following menopause.[2]

      Do you feel extremely stressed? How much does carrying a torch for your sister steal life away from you?

      All things good,



      • Kate says:

        I appreciate your concern, Mr. Schwartz; and thank you for following me. But please take another look at the title of this blog. This is where I talk about Kage, her writing, my writing, and sometimes life in general as it applies to writing. It’s what this blog is for – the things that really stress me out are all current events. As for migraines not occurring after menopause … being a post-menopausal woman who never had a migraine until she reached menopause, I am compelled to disagree with your analysis.


  4. buggybite says:

    I had something very similar happen to me years ago. A sudden onset of horrendous dizziness, vomiting, etc …which settled as long as I kept my eyes closed. I spent days lying in bed with my eyes shut, feeling fine. The minute I opened my eyes, the world spun, and it was back to the upchucks. Lucky I can find my way to the toilet with my eyes shut.

    It turned out to be ‘positional vertigo,’ pertaining to a slightly wonky vertebra in my upper back. Eventually it settled and went away, but I had to be very careful how I moved. I still do. I dread any sort of whiplashy kind of movement, because that can set it off again.


    • Kate says:

      Yeah, turns out there about a hundred different things this could be. It would be depressing, except I am now an expert of sudden horrible surprises! I am feeling better, being careful, waiting for test results, and convinced I will triumph over this. Unless my actual head falls off, I will succeed!


  5. Becky Miller says:

    Well THAT certainly puts a crimp in your weekend fun! How bizarre and, actually, frightening. I’m hoping you recover ever so quickly. I could not imagine going through what you are experiencing. My dear, I believe I can honestly say that you are leading an interesting life.


    • Kate says:

      For all my complaints. Becky, I must admit I have not been BORED in over half a century. So there’s that. And even if it turns out to be a tiny stroke, it hasn’t been too bad – and I am nearly 63, anyway. It’s not like it’s a surprise, you know? My pixie personality is apparently unchanged, and I really can’t be made clumsier than I already am … as long as I stop throwing up, all shall be well.


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