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.