Kage Baker was wont to judge throw up her hands on certain days, and consign the entire diurnal period to the trash bin. Not in general, either – specific days were thus tossed on specific faults and flaws, and often consigned to specific Circles of Hell.

The trash bins in Hell are customized to their respective circles, you see. Like the ones in Disneyland. But with less cuteness and (perhaps) more imagination; not to mention a superfluity of body parts in the garbage, as opposed to Carnation ice cream bar wrappers.

Anyway: Kage rated days on quality, not quantity. It was not the number of her days that mattered to her (unless she was counting down to a deadline), but how good they were. Some were a waste of ink on the calendar pages, and her own energy in acknowledging them. Thus they were damned to some wet, cold ring of Hell; because Kage hated wet and cold over all other weathers.

Today would have found itself in the 9th circle: buried to the hairline in ice, eyes frozen open and unable to weep, fixed on Satan’s hairy shanks in the centre of the icy waste. Wandering Italian poets* and science fiction writers** would tread on their protruding noses, and smear toe jam on their frigid corneas.

I am, as I  have mentioned, afflicted with congestive heart failure. I had a heart attack in mid-October, and have been trying ever since to get an appointment with a cardiologist. It seems to me, with my admittedly lay knowledge of medicine, that consulting a cardiologist is what I need to do at this point: as opposed to a podiatrist, or a hair dresser, or someone to realign my chi. Thus armed with common sense, I have been trying for over 2 months to actually be in the same room with a heart specialist. In this, mere common sense has been but a frail reed, weapon-wise.

I’ve been put off by cardiologists repeatedly; in fact, my heart attack on October 14th came as I was waiting for a November appointment, from a September referral … their solution was to give me a new appointment in December. Then January. Then February. I finally resorted to the only thing that got Kage in to finally see an oncologist – I called the appointment clerk and screamed and wept. I’d like to say my skills as a thespian won the day, or at least the sheer number of phone calls made to and fro: but I think it was the very real fear on their part that I would stroke out right there on the phone.

The clerk gave me an appointment, which she generously made for me, without consultation: for tomorrow. With a doctor who has never seen me, and who won’t see me unless I send them my medical records. Which I don’t have, and which the hospital will not release because they don’t have a release naming that particular doctor – whom I have never seen, remember … and so I spiral down into insanity, not to mention the toilet.

I got the cardiologist to change the appointment, giving me a few days to secure the records. The records clerk initially refused to send me the release form until I gave her my fax number, but I don’t have a fax number so she finally agreed to email it to me. (Which has not yet happened, and this was over an hour ago.) I figure I now have time, though, to go to the hospital and lay personal siege to the Records Department. They can let me sign the release there, or they can choose between having me go into cardiac arrest on their floor: before or after Security tasers me, I don’t care. Dealer’s choice.

In the meantime, I have been consistently prevented by this insane carousel of fuckery from working on Marswife, which was my choice of task today. In desperation I at least finally solved a long-standing problem as to what happens next in the story – my heroine, Jacinthe, has passed out in a booth at the Empress of Mars.

I wish I could.

So here I sit, overflowing with creativity, hysteria and rage, sipping from a fine crystal goblet of chilled brine. No, this is not a fancy metaphor for my anger: I like to drink pickle juice when I have heartburn. Which is what I hope the pain in my chest is … anyway, it looks like yellow absinthe, or Dr. Jekyll’s pharmaceutically screwed-up serum, and it soothes all my over-producing systems.

A glass with you, Dear Readers! Ice cold brine as yellow as a harpy’s eyes. If I keel over from apoplexy, I will rise as a vengeful zombie and frighten the Records clerk out of her teeny hamster mind.



*Dante, The Divine Comedy

** Niven,  Inferno

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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3 Responses to Iatrogenesis

  1. Tom Barclay says:

    May the most fell of beasts eat the livers of those who waylay you.


    • Kate says:

      They don’t have livers. Livers are found in real people. Medical/insurance clerks are, like all bureaucrats, stuffed with sawdust and stale packing peanuts.


  2. buggybite says:

    Ah, but you do write frustration so well! Rage seems to make you more articulate. I always envied people who could do that. When I’m infuriated I go all incoherent and slobber on my shoes or chitter and twitch like a thwarted squirrel. I certainly don’t write deathless prose.

    But aww…don’t blame hamsters. THEIR tiny minds aren’t devoted to the cause of preventing you from seeing a specialist. Nope. They’re just busy filling side pouches with things like corn kernels and waiting for their turn at The Wheel.

    Seriously I hope it goes well and that the cardiologist comes up with fixes that make you feel a lot better and more functional.


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