Cyborg Sunday, Update 12.24.2017: Tattoos, glucometers, RFIDs, and Bloody Fingers

It’s Christmas Eve, and as always, I’m balancing the line between one type of survival and the other. Diabetes, formerly known as The Sugar Disease, was once only treated by fasting. Insulin hadn’t been made into a medication yet, so staving off fatal hyperglycemia meant ingesting an obscene amount of water and not eating for long stretches of time. For me, that means making sure my holiday food choices don’t lead to stubborn high blood sugars–hardly as serious a situation, but still a pain in the ass. Eat too little, and I’ll starve anyway; eat too much, and glucose issues will ruin the next day or two. Really bad choices, or innocent mistakes, will still kill me, no matter how advanced technology gets.

There are those even today who maintain a raw food vegan diet can “cure” type one diabetes. For a while, I believed this to be true, and even went vegan, though not fully raw. My insulin requirements dropped significantly, but I gave this venture up. A strict diet like this isn’t a cure–it’s a treatment. I won’t settle for anything less than a full cure, whether through stem cell work, viral vector transmission, or cybernetics.

In the meanwhile, diabetics like myself are all too familiar with glucometer use. You load a fine gauge needle, a lancet, into a penlet, then pwang, a spring quickly jabs into the the soft bed of your fingertip (print side, of course, not by the nails).

The likelihood of developing an easier, cost-effective solution is unlikely, so long as the pharmaceutical industry is allowed to keep lobbying for their preferred regulation. Diabetes is, after all, a very common and very profitable disease, so why make things easy for us, if we can all coat some company’s bottom line?

The closest we’ve come so far to avoiding fingerpricking altogether is a sensor, i.e. the Freestyle Libre, which is worn like a cross between an insulin pump infusion site and a nicotine  patch. I’m on the leaner/fitter side, so as I frequently tell my doctor, I don’t have the real estate for ANOTHER techy needle-patch-tube device. I’ll still consider it, but for now, I’m holding off.

What would’ve been really cool is if we could get the RFID implant off the ground. Not a lot of money goes into funding that research, but imagine implanting a grain of rice in your forearm, or the soft tissue between your thumb and forefinger, and poof, no more needles! Well, none for your fingers. Cool, huh?

MIT researchers also recently developed biometric tattoo ink that changes colors based on blood composition, but it has no plans for testing and trial. With all due respect, why the hell not?

While I’d love an Outsider-style, color-changing/light-up tattoo that could broadcast, “Hey, bro, eat a banana so you don’t die,” this sort of future seems far off. Whether because of a lack of profitability, lack of research money, or lack of interest, these developments all take a backseat to something like the Libre. An RFID or Biometric tattoo would (ideally) be a one-time investment, while a Continuous Glucose Monitor only lasts 1-2 weeks, providing consistent recurring payments for the duration of, well, the patient’s life.

Will we see a future where someone (*cough, me, cough*) could augment themselves to the point of either not having diabetes, or barely noticing it? Probably. I just hope it’s sooner rather than later.

Chronic illness is a marathon, and every other runner is a grain of sand passing through the sieve of your hourglass. Move too slow, and time will run out.

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Cyborg Sunday, Update 12.17.17: Phoenix flames, net neutrality, writing, and other current events

Those who burn the world,

And keep boots upon our necks,

Will choke on their smoke.

–Comeuppance, a haiku, by yours truly

I may be one of the only people around who enjoys tinnitus.

Now, that doesn’t mean I LOVE it, just that I don’t find it as inconvenient as others seem to. In fairness, I don’t hear a high-pitched ringing, so much as a rapidly oscillating pulse. I’m not sure what the frequency is, but if I had more time, I’d perform some experiments to find out. That’s just the kind of guy I am.

Fortunately, it’s not the same tone as my insulin pump, and the sound only goes off intermittently anyway, so it’s not like this little plastic pancreas will run out of batteries and I won’t realize until my glucose hits 400. Even in sleep, I’m pretty good about hearing it. When health and survival depend on a single shrill tone, or the hum of an artificial ‘organ’ against your hip, you learn not to sleep too deeply.

Yet, for all my restlessness and insomnia, that steady wubwubwubwub in my ears lulls me to sleep. Good thing, too, because Net Neutrality has me–and, from what I understand, 83% of America–worried.

As a freelance writer, a lot of my future depends on my ability to get work out there. I’m not the only one, and I’m lucky, in the sense that my livelihood doesn’t depend on this yet. While I’m trying to build a Patreon page, sure, representation looks like my most assured path to making a career out of what I love to do. Until then, I keep the day job, which offers a slightly livable wage and, more importantly, insurance.

All I can offer those who might see their income impaired is pity and prayers. As someone who would’ve died at the age of two if not for scientific advancement, I know prayers only take you so far. I do believe in something, but I believe it helps those who help themselves. No one’s getting cured by accident or miracle. We develop, adapt, and overcome, or we succumb.

Maybe I’m cynical, but come hold my pancreas for a moment, then tell me your worldview.

Let’s see, writing and reading news: I read through Attack of the Kaiju: Age of Monsters this week. An admirable collection of giant monster fiction. It does contain four works by the two editors, but three of those four are fairly original, and pretty good. A few other names repeat. If you like kaiju and can’t wait for Pacific Rim Uprising, you ought to check this out.

I’ve also been hired to narrate four audiobooks. I’ll post more info when they’re closer to release, but long story short, they’re sci-fi works set in an android-ridden, drug-fueled, capitalist hellscape. I suppose my tech interests and gravelly voice made the writer think I’m a perfect choice, and hey, it’s been a lot of fun. Writing’s fun, too, but getting to contribute to another’s work, while getting me back into performing at the same time, has been great. I’m glad to have this opportunity.

Final notes: I sent out new flash fiction work to a contest, as well as to a Santa themed anthology. I don’t discuss details on non-accepted work, but “Maul Santa” will be appearing in Shades of Santa, a charity anthology put out by Things in the Well.

Soon, you’ll also be able to catch “Body and Soul” in the next issue of The Siren’s Call, a story about a man who dies in his sleep, and wanders his house as a ghost while his reanimated corpse wreaks havoc. If you just can’t wait, check out “Weighing Feathers” in the current issue. No spoilers, but let’s just say, I love reanimation–you’re just not always going to get zombies.

I’ll hopefully have more news soon. I’ve got poems out in a few markets, a few short stories being considered, a novella, two novels, and two short story collections being considered. I’d slow down, but I’ve lost interest in video games, so what else am I going to do with my time?

Besides, I’ve got a database to keep my head straight.

Obviously, life stands to change quite a bit soon, and that might impact all of our work, not just my own, but don’t any of you give up. There’s still plenty of time to sue to FCC, or have Net Neutrality pushed through via Congress, regulated by our federal legislature instead of a 5-person committee headed by a former Verizon lawyer.

Remember: if you can’t stop the world from burning, bring that fire into your heart, and scorch a path to a better tomorrow. Get out there, protest, and by all 5,000 of human kind’s gods, vote! Vote in every single election. Show the incumbent their positions are not secure. Show corporations that they do not get to dictate what is best for this nation.

The future is not decided by one person, by five, or by 535. It’s decided by all of us, every day. So get out there and make a choice.

 

The Invasion of Fear @ShotgunBlog

Brett McBean, author of The Invasion, recently wrote a guest essay at Shotgun Logic, another great blog. As a horror writer, I make sure to follow a wide array of writing feeds, and was not disappointed.

He says, very astutely, that horror writers should write what they fear. That curious emotion–the one the genre depends on most, the one we’re evolutionarily programmed to need–is formed when we’re very young.

I’ll save the details for an essay, but McBean says he fears a home invasion more than anything else, hence why he wrote a book about one. Me? I grew up the opposite. I was always afraid I’d turn around one day and my home would’ve vanished without me.

What about you? What do you fear? Give it some thought, or share below if you’re feeling brave. It might be the most important question you ask yourself today.

Shadows of the Mind, live at @crystallakepup

Hello Travelers,

From time to time, I take a break from my fictional pursuits to type out little essays and non-fiction pieces. Today, a personal favorite of mine–an essay on modern psychological horror–went live at Crystal Lake Publishing’s website. Feel free to check it out and share if you like. I’ll include a lead-in below.

All my best,

Kevin

***

Horror is a very prismatic genre; there are many subgenres, and each is colored by the tastes of the audience. Whether we’re talking realistic, supernatural, steampunk, splatterpunk, or whatever else tickles your fancy, there’s a subset that perhaps sheds much more insight to both character and reader: Psychological Horror.

This oft mentioned but usually ill-defined subgenre deals exclusively with the mind. It is the type of fiction that plays on expectation and rationality, and can often be applied to works that the author(s) don’t necessarily intend to be under this category. Such is the nature of the industry, though. Some say we don’t truly know what genre we write until the critics have finished deciding; Dean Koontz maintains he’s not a horror writer, but many people, myself included, say otherwise.

When Your Family Doesn’t Support Your Writing

I’m responding, in part, to Tricia Drammeh’s post, featured at When Your Family Doesn’t Support Your Writing, but mostly to the overwhelming importance of this topic. When it comes to any endeavor, we, as humans, need emotional, personal, and professional support. That’s just who we are. Even introverts engaging in as solitary a passion as writing need someone saying, “Hey, you don’t suck! Keep going!

My heart goes out to Mrs. Drammeh. It’s rough when your loved ones forget that you do what you love, or that making money at it (assuming your family is supported, has food on the table, etc.) isn’t the important part.

Being young, I’m lucky: Most people are kind enough not to say, “Asshole, get a real job,” assuming they know what I do at all. I’ve grown used to not talking about my writing in person due to the age old reactions of, “Really? What are you gonna do writing?” or “You know there’s know money in that, right?” or even “Look out, future starving artist alert!”

In fact, I once dated a girl who, after I told her about my love for writing, made a point to say, “That sounds like a waste of time.” When I asked if she wanted to read some of my work, her response was, “I don’t read.”

“I don’t read” is an infinitely more depressing statement. I could handle writing book after book and not making money, but to hear someone say, offhand, about any and every book in existence, that reading has no appeal, is heartbreaking.

Speaking of heart break, the aforementioned is now an ex girlfriend, in part for that reason.

I was lucky in that I could get away from that negativity, because no writer should have such criticism at the home. Unfortunately, family is often the first to say “Stop” when you want to hear “Go,” and you can’t exactly cut off everyone.

Writing is a beautiful, painstaking art, and it can take years to make it in the field, assuming you have success at all. People will critique you along the way, and they’ll do so when you succeed; whether people hate you, think you’re wasting time, or are just jealous of your passion as a writer, there comes a point where you have to say, “I’m either going to ignore this pain or use it, but like hell is it going to stop me.”