Conscious Sedation… A True Oxymoron?

I recently needed an extraction owing to a pesky wisdom tooth hooking under the tooth in front and killing the nerve. Judging by my last recollection of an extraction where the dentist tore my gums, I suffered extensive bleeding, agony which painkillers barely touched, and a month to heal a mouth full of ulcers, I gave Conscious Sedation a try. This is also apparently the only form of sedation a dentist outside of a hospital may administer these days, and, should I ever need the wisdom tooth out, I’m forewarned it will be ‘a bit of a bugger’. So… Conscious Sedation to dampen my dread, and to test how well this works.

First, credit where it’s due. I’m grateful for the care provided by the dentist and all the staff with sincere gratitude for their understanding, and for working and offering treatment in these Covid times. The extraction was professional and nowhere near as bad as I feared. Was, in fact, nothing like my previous dental experiences; this time there was little bleeding and I’ve managed the post-extraction discomfort with no problem. Within 5 days I was off the painkillers. Though I hate to say it, this is either the difference between private and NHS dentists, this being my first experience of paying privately (with pain radiating up into my cheekbone and round to my teeth on the other side, I had no choice but to do whatever I could to hurry an appointment along), or simple potluck in trying to find a good dentist.

Unfortunately, the Conscious Sedation didn’t work. Let me repeat: The Conscious Sedation DIDN’T WORK.

I had been told ‘if aware I wouldn’t care’ and ‘I wouldn’t remember’. I thought I would have at least felt drowsy or as though I was in ‘happy land’, but I didn’t even feel relaxed. I kept thinking, ‘When is this stuff supposed to kick in?’ Then the ultrasonic cleaning began (which I had also agreed to), and I thought maybe by the time this finishes, but I still felt no different. I recall being asked if I was okay several times, to which I felt confused and wasn’t sure what to say. I was ‘okay’ but nowhere near relaxed. In retrospect, I can’t help feeling the sedation influenced my agreement. Several times I argued with myself over saying something vs just getting it over with.

Next thing I knew, I was receiving injections and silently started swearing. I was, after all, not meant to ‘care’ by this point, and had paid £250 (£720, including the assessment and all the subsequent work) for the privilege. I was nowhere close to ‘unaware’. At the time of the extraction, I recall being asked if all I could feel was pressure, and saying no, I felt a little more than pressure at which point I received another 1 or 2 injections (while wishing I’d metaphorically kept my mouth shut to avoid them). Then the incredible alternating left/right pressure of the extraction and finally hearing, “That’s all done.”

I recall them bringing my husband into the room (with sedation someone has to take responsibility for you) and everything said. When I said I felt a bit ‘out of it’ the dentist remarked, “Like having a G&T.” I would frankly have preferred the G&T. I only felt as if I’d gone too many hours without sleep. I can’t help thinking all Conscious Sedation does to some people is to get them to cooperate and then they’re supposed to go home and sleep whereby they forget everything. But I didn’t sleep. I spent several days struggling with insomnia. I returned home and dozed in the afternoon for 10 minutes during a 30 minute programme of which I missed the middle. After going to bed that evening, I woke at 2am through to 4am. The next night I woke at 3:45. The following night I couldn’t sleep until 1am, though I’d not slept during the day.

I have spoken to others since, for which it both did and didn’t work, so I’m not alone. At least I’m now forewarned not to accept this form of sedation again, though that leaves me with a potential predicament should I ever need major/painful work. I certainly wouldn’t look forward to a root canal or that predicted problematic wisdom tooth removal. It’s since been suggested to me they design these drugs to trick the mind, so it’s possible I’d be someone not easily hypnotised.

Even worse, it appears Conscious Sedation is gaining popularity in all medical circles with it being used for surgeries. And though statistically, it’s a tiny percentage of people for whom it doesn’t work, it’s not foolproof. After some research, this quote stands out: “With Conscious Sedation, I think physicians recognize that quite a lot of the time their patients will actually be distressed, but they’re relying on the fact that most are not going to remember it…”

I don’t know about you, the one reading this, but I dislike patients being distressed but that being ‘okay’ because the patient won’t remember. They’re also looking into whether patients may subsequently suffer PTSD complicated by the fact they won’t know the reason for it. Patients at least need to make a truly informed decision.

Night to Dawn 38

It’s fine to extend Halloween into November, isn’t it? I’m afraid this is a rather late post. I’m blaming the toothache and wait I had for the assessment, then treatment. A true horror story of a wisdom tooth hooking under the tooth in front. Nothing I had done, nothing I could have done to avoid it. Treatment over, but nursing the pain of recovery, I realised I completely overlooked blogging about my latest releases in Night to Dawn 38.

I’m delighted to say his edition features reprints of my Sleepy Hollow Poem, Ichabod, Ichabod, Ichabod, and my short story, The Wolf Moon (previously seen in the anthology, Winter Tales).

First stanza of Ichabod, Ichabod, Ichabod. Read more in Night to Dawn 38.
Read Diana and Gabriel’s tale in Night to Dawn 38.

Available from www.bloodredshadow.com and through Amazon.

Dragon #8

This photo wasn’t taken in my current house, but that only shows how long I’ve had this little fella. And when I say little, it’s one of my largest and favourite dragons. We got him while holidaying with friends in Dorset many years ago. They named him Sparky. He’s made from wood pulp, so though he was near a fireplace when I took this photo, it wasn’t lit.

Update Oct 2020

Hi Everyone!
AT HOME:
I didn’t blog last week, too involved with a major sort out and tidy up in the house and the garage. I think this was in part to take my mind off things, but it also proved more exhausting than expected. It’s what comes of climbing up and down steps and lugging boxes around. The garage also has some pretty large spiders.

Not much in the way of walks to report and now we’re all in for another lockdown.

FILM/TV:
Been watching a few comedy series, and some horror films for October. Bit of juxtaposition, but suited my mood. Tried the BBC series, Ghost, and am in two minds. Quite dry humour, with a childish bent; the series really interested me because it’s so similar to something I wrote as a child. Of course, the characters and outcomes were different. My writing wouldn’t have been up to scratch, and I never completed it, but the inherited house full of ghosts and only the woman can see them was so my idea. I remember writing it in an old school textbook.

Though it received a love/loathe response from many I enjoyed The Haunting of Bly Manor on Netflix, not that I didn’t have issues with it. Not truly scary, it’s mostly a bittersweet love story. I had problems with at least one plot point (spoiler alert), namely what happened to the ghost that the principal character took with her? He served a purpose to give her a reason for taking the job, trying to start anew, and to let us know she could see ghosts, but then he vanished from the story to serve no other purpose. At one point, I thought he might have helped save her from one of the other ghosts, but the creators completely overlooked this possibility.

READING:
Lovecraft Country, Matt Ruff
I love books that blend genres surprisingly. With richly portrayed characters and a real feel of both fantastical magic, and the more frightening and bitter horror of racism, the historical setting adds an uneasy depth that’s all too realistic. My one criticism is that I felt a little detached from the true cruelty of the era, and would have liked more emotional insight to the characters’ feelings; saying that, it’s all too easy to fill in the blanks. The book is easy to read in a series of individual but linked stories with a noir pulp feel running through them. (Side note: the book is not the same as the series, with a subtle tone down of the magic and mayhem, and with less blatant sex.)

The Witcher: The Lady of the Lake, Andrzej Sapkowski
As this is the last of an 8 book read I committed to, I was looking forward to this. Felt a little disappointed at the start. Ironically, one character close to the start of the book states she doesn’t like legends that mix fables with reality. While we can hardly quote tales of King Arthur as reality they are of our world, and I’ve always preferred The Witcher to exist completely apart, not linked to famous myths and legends as we know them. The book also felt somewhat padded, but there are plenty of personal stories, and fabulous, bitter and sweet endings. Without spoilers, the most I can say is the conclusion felt a little nebulous, but the story of Ciri, Yennifer, and Gerait is a journey worth travelling.

Disappearance at Devils Rock, Paul Tremblay
An author who writes in his own style and created his own genre bridging the supernatural and real life paranoia. Horror? I’m not sure I would categorise his novels in that genre, but horror covers such a wide spectrum these days. Sometimes his work has a Young Adult flavour, but then as many of his characters are teens or children, this is fine. This novel sums up a mother’s terror over her missing child well, yet the true horror here comes from the way Tremblay captures the flavour of social media, and journalism, the criticism and blame aimed at victims.

Relics, Tim Lebbon
I’m a little torn with this book. On the one hand, I love the human characters, Angela, Vince, even Fat Frederick, but when this seeming thriller becomes supernatural, the reader must completely suspend belief to accept the magical world surviving in the shadows around London. Unfortunately, I think other writers have done that better, which isn’t to lessen this book. It’s urban fantasy with believable characters, an array of villains, and a sometimes blurred line between good and evil. I enjoyed the read, but I did not realise this was a series and I’m uncertain it’s hooked me enough to continue.

The Troop, Nick Cutter
I would have finished this book sooner had time allowed; I didn’t want to put it down. At first, I wasn’t sure of the narrative. Being that the plot involved teenage boys, much of the tone expressed that initially, but then as things progressed so did the style grow more lyrical and tighter, edging along the sense of well-constructed doom. Scary? Yes, owing to the subject alone, the sense that one day this or similar could happen under humankind’s egotistical restructuring of the natural world. This is an amazing book. I’ve seen negative reviews and understand the dislike of animal abuse portrayed, but sometimes it’s necessary to reflect reality. Even then the story is painfully sad, making the reader feel for these boys. Other negatives, I don’t understand as there’s little point moaning about extremes when reading horror, as long as it fits the story without be gratuitous. The various personalities build a rich tapestry of human nature, good and bad. For me, the book ends on a perfect note.

WRITING:
I’m in the last quarter of the draft for my horror novel. Not that I’m anywhere near finished. I’ve been getting many more ideas I want to incorporate, and it won’t surprise me if the book ends up being longer than I expected. This book is important to me and I won’t rush it just to get it done, but I will shelve it, and work on something else next, likely around the end of the year.

Stay happy and healthy!
Sharon x

A Review: The Forgotten Son

As many of my readers may know, I’m one writer in the multi-authored Lethbridge-Stewart series, aka The Brigadier of Doctor Who fame. So I thought to look back at the book that launched the series by the author and editor, Andy Frankham-Allen.

My most lasting memory of The Brigadier is an episode of Doctor Who (I could not tell you which) starring Jon Pertwee. I have a clear image in my head of the Doctor driving away in Bessie with Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart looking on. Whether time has altered that visual I don’t know, but that is my clearest memory of first seeing Nicholas Courtney play a character as well-beloved by Who fans as any of the companions.

I’m a Doctor Who fan, but I cannot call myself an aficionado. An abiding love is not the same as repeatedly watching and researching the series to be as knowledgeable as Andy Frankham-Allen. His love of the show shines through not only in this story but in that Lethbridge-Stewart now appears as the lead in a new series of books. I didn’t even know that the first appearance of Lethbridge-Stewart takes place in a 1968 episode The Web of Fear before reading the first book, nor do I remember the Yeti who terrorised London at the control of the Great Intelligence.

The Forgotten Son is a sequel of that story where the Great Intelligence, having escaped, leads Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart away from restoring order in London to his birthplace of Bledoe in Cornwall where he has to face not only a resurgence of the threat but some peculiar truths pertaining to his past. In this way, we learn a great deal more of the character, and in that, the story becomes more than a mere continuance.

As I’m not a diehard fan, I reserved my expectations. I wasn’t sure I would enjoy the story at all, but the writing is warm and opulent, making even the more complex elements easy to read and understand. Although I’d say it’s an action driven book, it still reveals much about the characters. I found the work a little choppy in places, but to explain I need to add that some scenes run short, unlike in most novels; however, I’ve encountered this with some tie-in/spin-off series from television before. These books often seem written as complements to the episodes, and the change of scenes happens the way they might in a show. Once I grew used to this, I no longer found it a problem. A pleasure was seeing the story set in Cornwall, an area I know well.

The story is the first and perhaps the hardest to produce. It’s the springboard from which other stories will come and sets the tone, provides a background even those who watch Doctor Who will be unfamiliar with. I’m just sorry Nicholas Courtney didn’t live to see these books come to the market. I can think of nothing better than had he a chance to read even a snippet of this aloud to an audience.

I began the book with a fondness for Lethbridge-Stewart created from nostalgia and memories, but with no desire to get to know this character at all. I finished it, wondering where the novels will take him and what more they might reveal about Lethbridge-Stewart’s job and beyond—the man (both fictitious and real) who will always be to me ‘The Brigadier’.

I cannot end without praising all those who aided in getting this series launched at all. Whether the books meet with commendation or censure, the character deserves his own series and has been too long overlooked.

Looking Back Ten Years

I think we all have to agree this has been a terrible year, and we’re not even at the end. Looking through some old posts in my draft list, I spotted this and thought looking back might prove to be a strange blessing and appropriate. We too often overlook the best reasons to be grateful:

Throughout 2009 I kept writing 2008. Maybe I was trying to claw back a year of my life, but I don’t think that’s the reason. I think so much has happened to me in the last couple of years I had lost track of time. When you’re young the older generations tell you time speeds up the older you get. You turn away in disinterest for only time can teach you how right they are. Yep, time has sped up in recent years and only partly because I’ve been so busy. [I didn’t realise how much was about to happen in the years ahead, including having to move twice, eventually ending up in the countryside, only then to have the move spoiled by health problems.]

Well, I spent the Christmas holidays and New Year slowing down as much as possible. I read but didn’t write (although I dreamed up a couple more story ideas and scribbled them down). I ate, but not too much. I drank, not too much. I put my feet up. I visited family. I slipped and slid in snow that melted the very next day. I came home. I visited neighbours. I jumped around like a loony playing on a Wii console, amazed it aged me younger than my years. I relaxed as much as I could on my birthday and welcomed the new year in with ambiguous feelings, probably because I really couldn’t get my head around that number of 2010. Yesterday (Sunday) I took the decorations down and wondered how it was possible I was doing so because it felt as if I’d just put them up. The poinsettia — a gift — is the only evidence of Christmas left. [Now I’m struggling to get my head around the year 2020. Such fond memories, especially in a year of a pandemic which has robbed us of seeing family and friends.]

Many of us in the UK also said goodbye to David Tennant as Doctor Who and try as I might, I’m not entirely sure I can give the new Doctor a chance. He’s too young for me, which must prove my age. LOL. Jon Pertwee and to some extent Tom Baker were my doctors — and for those who understand the programme, each generation has their ‘own’ doctor. David Tennant gave the show a new lease of life that I doubt anyone else can, mostly usurping the doctors of my childhood. The last episode gave him a parting line eloquent for the actor and us as an audience. David loved playing the doctor and didn’t want to leave, although it was his decision to do so. But sometimes we have to leave good things behind to move forward to better ones. Likewise, most of the audience didn’t want him to go, but gone he has, and the thing to do is appreciate the good things while they are there. Tennant is one of my favourite people on TV, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what he does next. I’ve also got three hours of him in Hamlet to watch. [Note: Matt Smith eventually grew on me, and I went on to write an audio short story featuring the 11th Doctor.]

So, new year and that often means changes. I rarely make new year’s resolutions but this time I have. I have in mind what I want to do writing wise, holiday-wise…and the lovely experience of spending some quiet time with the one person most important to me in this world has made me determined to make more ‘home’ time, including time to get out for some walks, do some exercise, and sit down for a good home-cooked meal now and then. I do cook, almost every day, but I want to dig into my recipe books so every other Sunday it would be nice if it was a morning of freshly brewed coffee, some home-baked bread, or a nice dinner over a bottle of wine. We’ve been so busy in recent years, writing, working, moving, decorating, dealing with the unfortunate incidents life throws at you and some wonderful ones, we’ve forgotten what it’s like to do those things; the simple things. This is the year I want to remember. [Note: Life and health issues now mean I can’t touch the wine and have to be careful to avoid certain foods. I didn’t know when I had things so good.]

What’s in a Name?

One question I never thought I’d need to address was whether to write under a pseudonym. Pen-names weren’t for me. My dream was to be a writer. Why wouldn’t I want to ‘own’ that?

I came to a stuttering halt when my first novel turned out to be erotic romance (heavier on the romance/adventure aspect). Why? I had an idea which nagged me and a market to submit to, delighted to take it. I dithered over what name to use with a few friends coming up with some (truly) ridiculous offerings. I had to explain the publisher I was with would never allow such jokes to stand, and neither did I wish to use one.

Then a writer/friend advised I should never write something I wasn’t willing to put my name to; speaking from experience, if I were to put out work without owning it, I might come to regret it. My thoughts were similar: “What if this is the only novel I ever publish?” I had nothing to hide, though I have to admit I never gave a day job a thought. Never occurred to me an employer might object to something one of their employees wrote, though I’ve since come to realise that for many writers, their day jobs are foremost on their minds when publishing.

This still seems unfair to me. Especially with certain genres, of which romance and/or erotica appear to get the brunt of dislike. I believe a writer should have the right to depict an accurate reflection of the world. Sex? For goodness’ sakes, be an adult. No one seems to object when the teenage couple slink off into the woods to have their kissing interrupted by an axe-wielding maniac, or cannibalistic family living in the wilderness. But depict consenting adults doing what makes the world go round, and too many will advert their gazes. If you don’t like something, don’t read it. Simple as.

Still, I now realise many writers choose pen-names for protection. They don’t want their writing to affect them in their workplaces, or halt their non-writing careers. They don’t want to encounter abuse from friends, family, colleagues, or neighbours. They don’t want a super fan right from the pages of Stephen King’s Misery to track down where they live.

So, it’s a serious question worth considering before you’re ever published, although these days one can never guarantee keeping an identity secret. Still, I wish I had given it more consideration for another reason: although never my intention, I’ve slipped into the precarious category of multi-genre author, not an enviable position to be in.

I’ve often said I write as I read, meaning anything and everything. When you’ve varied tastes and the muse strikes, it’s hard not to follow where the ideas lead. Yet it’s not the wisest choice. Writing can be as much about branding as the work itself, but success in one genre does not guarantee success in all. Readers, even devoted ones, will not necessarily follow you everywhere, especially if you’re a lower-end or mid-range author (perfectly acceptable levels in which to have excellent publishing careers) rather than that of the household name variety. Writing in two (or more) genres often means twice (or more) the amount of work. Hence, unenviable. You may also want to avoid confusion. Readers come to expect a certain something from a brand (name).

An ‘easy’ way to separate genres is to choose different names, regardless of whether you keep them unrelated and/or secret. In retrospect, I wish I had made a better selection for all my romantic endeavours, but it’s far too late now. Changing at this stage might confuse those who love my work. When I came to write steampunk, and then Doctor Who related fiction, I simply dropped the middle name — originally added because I thought it sounded better. But, though these works have dark elements (as so, too, do some of my romances), they’re not as dark as several short stories, or the horror novel I’m working on. How do I brand this fiction?

For a long time I toyed with writing under the name Sharon Kernow (much of my original interest in myths and legends arose from holidays in Cornwall/Kernow, but I grew to love Devon and other counties as well), and even attempted this with some short works, but now I’m not so sure. Though I don’t consider my name to have a particular ‘author-like’ sound, I don’t wish to feel detached from my writing. So, I switched to using initials, as there’s still some belief that, as men have and still use pseudonyms to write romance, women still struggle to achieve recognition in horror. But I’ve seen a few women who are breaking these barriers, and I’d feel proud to be one of them and part of women in horror month.

For now, I remain torn. Do I discard the middle name, use initials, or change my name entirely? Some days I feel like calling myself Sharon Savage, but that’s more to do with my mood than reflective of anything I’m writing.

What do you think? Anyone who has thoughts on the subject or a similar experience is welcome to comment.