There are levels of reassurance.
Under the circumstances, being told "that's completely average" was something of a relief. But then I was lying on the floor where I'd collapsed, with an oxygen mask clamped on to try and calm my breathing while the paramedic crew were giving me an intravenous anti-nausea drug to stop the projectile vomiting and sticking electrodes to me so they could see if anything was wrong with my heart. Which is where that reassuring "average" comes in. I wasn't having a stroke. Well good.
A few minutes earlier the world suddenly started spinning around me for no reason whatsoever. The ambulance crew didn't know why either, so after confirming I wasn't a stroke victim they took me off to hospital. I have to stress here that the paramedics were utterly brilliant. They turned up fast and knew what they were doing. Then we got to Big City hospital.
I spent two hours lying on a bed in A&E having my blood pressure taken at regular intervals. The anti-nausea drug worked wonders, too. I didn't even need the oxygen mask any more. Then the doctor came in. I explained what had happened.
Dr: How do you feel now?
Dr: Would you like to go home?
Dr: Off you go then.
If only I was summarizing with added irony.
As I indicated, it was a great anti-nausea drug. Unfortunately, it wore off seven hours later. The world started spinning again, and there I was back on the floor throwing up whilst trying not to hyperventilate this time round. I crawled to Mrs H's car, and she drove me down to Oakham's small hospital. I was the only patient. The night duty doctor there gave me another intravenous shot and told me I had labyrinthitis, which is an inner ear infection that messes with balance. Finally, a diagnosis. An anti-inflammatory jab, some tablets, and I was sent home to recover. Which I did this time. Oakham hospital 1 Big City hospital 0 and then some.
When I got to see my GP a day later he told me the effects of labyrinthitis are spectacular and completely disproportionate to the result it has on the body. In other words there was very little wrong with me. A short course of pills cleared it up.
However, given that everyone involved, myself included, believed I was having a stroke or worse at the time, it makes you think. It certainly made me consider priorities. So then... an hour or so less writing each day so I can spend that time with the kids - one of the great advantages of being a writer. Jogging regularly. And any day now I expect to be "eating properly"; er, no rush on that one.
All of which brings us neatly to the progress report, which is what this blog is about. Under the new regime I've been through the UK page proofs of Temporal Void, and we're expecting the bound proofs any day now. The USA edit is here, and I'm going through that. I spent a month revising and finalizing the outline notes of The Evolutionary Void. And I've even started writing it. I'm no expert, but it might be a tiny bit bigger than Temporal Void which itself has inexplicably come out 100 pages longer than Dreaming Void. Some things just never change. As to delivery date, late next year is my best guess.
We also went on holiday to StIves in Cornwall, and had great weather the whole time, so spent seven straight days on the beach with the kids. Fun but exhausting. Grandparents were also taken along so Mrs H and myself could go out each night. We even got to visit the cinema twice, which is probably our quota for the year: Indiana Jones and Sex In The City. Personally I thought they did a great job with Indiana Jones, I dont't know what the critics were expecting but it certainly ticked most of the boxes I wanted. Sex In The City was perhaps too long, but that's all. Now here's the thing about StIves. I'd never been before, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Heaven knows what it's like in high summer, it was crowded enough when we were there in early June. It's one of those "quaint" places with narrow streets that were never intended for modern cars, the beaches are great, some good restaurants, and it's got an interesting history as a working harbour and an artist colony (the Tate is there now). All of which conspired to produce a lot of mental note-taking about a quiet town that's as far away from Earth as you can get, which will feature in the book after the possible YA trilogy which itself will be next after Evolutionary Void.
And while all this was going on I managed to watch series two of the American Office. Possibly better than the UK version. One of my big guilty pleasures in recent years was Alien V Predator, so when Mrs H was on a girls night I sat down with the DVD of AVP2. What a pile of utter crap. American Gangster, stylishly filmed, and again a little too long. Semi Pro, big disappointment, but the Russian Roulette scene almost made it worthwhile.
While writing in the office I have been mostly listening to Muse's Absolution, Black Holes & Revelations, and Origin of Symmetry. Good band, don't know why it's taken me so long to find them. I've also got Genesis live 2007 (oh hello, we seem to be back on guilty pleasure).
I'm going to finish where I started. One of the paramedics who came to help me, Lee, is on an impressive sponsored walk in Northern Europe to raise funds for various good causes. The least I owe him is to mention it here http://www.justgiving.com/leehatfield999 Thanks Lee.
Final whinge, the glue they use to stick electrodes on is hell to wash off.
Peter F. Hamilton