Jeez, what’s wrong with your back?
I have ankylosing spondylitis, a form of arthritis that primarily attacks the spine and pelvis. For a while I thought that I might not have AS because evidence of disease didn’t show up in an MRI. My spine does not appear to be trying to fuse itself together, which is at least something. But my rheumatologist has confirmed that I do have AS; the lack of radiographic evidence does foreclose some treatment options, though. Diagnostic confusion aside, the bottom line is that I have to deal with quite a bit of pain and reduced mobility on a regular basis.
Yikes! How did that happen?
I’m not sure. It’s possible that it was triggered by stress. The symptoms emerged when I was 25 (I was working on my Ph.D. at the time, so that was rather inconvenient). AS was the natural diagnosis, given the symptoms and my family history. (My paternal grandfather also had it; he lived to be 97.)
Where does it hurt?
Primarily at the sacroiliac joint, where the spine meets the pelvis. It also radiates up the spine. When I’m in flare (see below) I also feel it in my rib cage, wrists and ankles.
Is it always this bad?
It comes and goes. Sometimes I barely notice it’s there, and people who’ve seen me at my worst are surprised at how well I move and how energetic I seem. Sometimes it flares up so badly I can’t walk. (Most people don’t see me when it’s at its worst: I tend not to be able to leave the house.) People with arthritis tend to talk about “flares”—periods when the disease flares up for several weeks at a time, especially during spring and fall. If you hear me talking about being “in flare,” I’m in one of those periods. In general, though, I am in at least some pain nearly all the time.
Have you tried this treatment?
Many people, once they see me in obvious discomfort, try to be helpful and sympathetic by suggesting some form of treatment—meds that work for them, chiropractors, alternative medicine, a special diet. I appreciate your concern, but please knock that shit off. I’ve been dealing with this for 20 years and have heard it all. It can be exhausting to deal with ostensibly helpful suggestions from people who’ve just heard about what I have. Treatment is also highly individual: what works for one patient doesn’t work for another.
What can I do to help, then?
A little understanding can make my life a lot easier. Read “The Spoon Theory” to understand what it’s like for people with chronic illness. Don’t take it personally if I don’t seem sociable and lively at events (I’m also an introvert: I’m not bright and bubbly at the best of times). Don’t take it personally if I cancel at the last minute. Don’t make me bend, stand for long periods, or make me walk faster than I can manage. Offer me a seat. Never joke about it.
This section is for authors, publishers and publicists who want to send me review copies. I don’t usually ask for review copies, and I don’t object to buying my own books. If I’ve received a review copy and review it on my blog, I note that in my review.
Can I send you a review copy of this book?
In general, yes. But keep in mind the following:
- My areas of interest are primarily, but not exclusively, (a) maps and cartography, (b) reptiles and amphibians, and (c) science fiction and fantasy. I also have some interest and expertise in history, astronomy and astrophotography, and classical music. With some exceptions, the likelihood of my being able to review books outside those fields is low.
- I review books about maps and cartography at The Map Room. Please see The Map Room’s reviewing guidelines for more information.
- My remit at AE is Canadian science fiction: if it isn’t Canadian and science fiction, my review will appear on this website, not at AE. Also bear in mind that my review slots at AE are finite: around six to eight a year.
- The timeliness of my review is contingent on my workload and health.
- I’m generally not interested in reviewing self-published fiction.
- The phrase “in exchange for an honest review” makes my teeth itch.
When in doubt, contact me first.
Where do I send the review copy?
Send it to me — by postal mail if at all possible—at the following address:
PO Box 473
Shawville QC J0X 2Y0
If you must use a courier, please contact me to get my street address and phone number (I don’t put either of them on my website). Couriers can’t use post office boxes, and on two occasions (so far) they’ve had to contact me via this website because a publisher tried shipping to my PO Box via DHL.
Can I send you an electronic version?
Yes. I can handle epub, Kindle and PDF files. You can send them to me by e-mail at email@example.com.
I’m also on NetGalley (under my first name dot my last name at Gmail).
Can I use your photos?
Probably. Please contact me to discuss terms. I may or may not expect to be paid depending on what you want to use them for (see below), but I will always insist on being credited.
Weren’t your photos available under a Creative Commons licence?
They were. As of July 29, 2014, I’ve removed that licence from my Flickr photos. I had selected a licence that required attribution and non-commercial use, but too often I found my photos circulating online without credit, or appearing in venues that I thought might not be non-commercial. (Editorial use seems to be a grey area.) So I gave up.
I’m under no illusions that “All Rights Reserved” will put a stop to infringement, but it might prevent some well-meaning edge cases. Or at least get people to clear it with me first. If nothing else, my photos won’t turn up in searches for CC-licensed content by people who don’t understand CC licence terms.
But I’ve been using your photos under that licence!
Don’t worry! You can continue to do so, so long as you started before July 29, 2014 and the terms of that licence (non-commercial use, attribution) are met. I have no intention of retroactively cancelling previously approved uses of my photos.
Under what circumstances do you expect to be paid?
In general I don’t object to your using my photos to illustrate your blog post, your hobbyist website, your class project, or your educational display, and will not expect payment for such uses. Just give me credit and a link back (see below). But I will expect to be compensated for commercial use. As for editorial use: in general I expect to be paid by professional publications, but not by amateur ones (such as fanzines and personal blogs). I know there are plenty of edge cases and grey areas. Ask me if you’re not sure.
How should I credit you?
Can I get a higher-resolution photo?
I haven’t always uploaded to Flickr at full size, though the size at which I have been uploading has been getting larger over time. Contact me if you need print-resolution images. Note that my oldest photos (2006 and earlier) were shot with a three-megapixel camera, so there may not be a version with a high enough resolution for you.
Nikon or Canon?
If you have a question about garter snakes, please visit Gartersnake.info, which is dedicated to providing information about both wild and pet garter snakes.
I’m otherwise not really equipped to offer advice on how to take care of pet reptiles or how to deal with wild reptiles on your property.
On the other hand, I might be able to help you identify a snake — at least if you’re in the United States or Canada. Send a photo to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or upload it to a photo-sharing site and send me the link. Be sure to tell me where you found the snake: it makes a huge difference in making a positive ID, and it’s the first thing I’m going to ask you if you leave it out. (City, county, state or province — you don’t need to be more precise than that.)
Unless you’re writing from a place that doesn’t have very many species (e.g., most of Canada), I usually won’t be able to identify a snake based on a verbal description.
You might also try the Facebook Snake Identification Group.
Hi there! Would you be interested in selling advertising space on your website?
No. Die in a fire.
Hi there! Would you be interested in hosting guest blog posts from industry experts—
No. Die. In. A fire.