Adventures in Neuropathy

A New Media Challenge

On June 11, 2013, the boundaries of new media history were once again advanced. Working steadily for the prior three months, my research and writing had produced three first drafts, ready to be edited and formatted into three more essays/chapters to be included in the Petticoat Rebellion. Then, literally, out of the blue, appeared one of the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Pestilence struck me down in mid-stride. It attacked under the name of Guillian-Barrè Syndrome, a rare disease marked  by progressive weakness in the legs and numbness and loss of feeling in the hands and feet.

At first, I did not realize the extent of the problem. After a few days, the neuropathy (numbness and loss of feeling and hands and feet) did not go away. Getting worse nanometer by nanometer, I soon lost the ability to type or to use the computer mouse. Not able to stand for any length of time or to make change at a cash register, this also precluded my ability to attend to my part-time job. What is a new-media historian supposed to do?!

Upon reflection, I figured that if Stephen Hawking could do it so could I. Luckily, modern computer technology, even in a modest system such as I use, could be adapted to voice control. After mucking around for a day or two with the system settings, I managed to get a reasonable facsimile of a voice controlled computer system. The result is what you are reading now.

In spite of my reduced productivity, I have been able to complete the second draft of the first story (about an alligator) to be included in the Petticoat Rebellion. Advances have also been made on the hunting essay and the smuggling essay. So while Messrs. Guillian and Barrè have arranged for a severely reduced output for the summer of 2013, being a new-media historian has actually moved the story forward where I couldn’t have done so before.

By the way, the doctors tell me that after treatment the disease is gone or under control, but the neuropathy will remain for at least a year. Despite the extended prognosis, I am already able to walk without assistance (mostly). I have also regained the use of my index fingers and my thumbs again. It’s nice to be able to push a button once more.

So, keep reading and keep in touch. My goal is still that Part One of the Petticoat Rebellion will be done and distributed by the end of the year.


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