Over the last two years, I’ve caught swine flu, whooping cough, and a mysterious neurological condition. Now I also have an ear infection. As one illness piles on top of another, it’s become difficult to keep up with my writing. Several times, I’ve considered giving it up entirely (my neurological issues make it hard to concentrate).
However, I’ve decided all my visits to doctor’s offices and hospitals are good for my writing (when I can do it). I write science fiction. Biology is a part of science, and I’m surrounded by experts in applied biology. This is a research opportunity!
My own situation could be a sci-fi story. Why are all these diseases picking on me? What if they’re working together—coordinating their attacks?
Okay, maybe it wouldn’t be a good sci-fi story. But if I ever have to create my own Dr. Beverly Crusher, I can base her on the real doctors I’ve met. Real doctors aren’t like the ones on Grey’s Anatomy (sadly, they aren’t like the ones on Star Trek either). Based on what I’ve seen, there are three kinds of doctor.
- The kind who doesn’t care. Your pain and suffering is just another day at the office to this guy.
- The kind who try to convince you you’re sicker than you really are so they can get more money from your insurance company.
- The good kind, who answer your questions, check up on your progress, and help you decide for yourself how to treat your condition. I don’t know how common these good doctors are; I’ve only met one so far.
What I’m trying to say is this: for a writer, nothing is a bad experience. No matter what you may be going through, it’s an opportunity to learn something. Thanks to my illnesses, I know a little more about health care (and after two MRIs, I envy Star Trek’s medical tricorder for good reasons).
What bad experiences have helped you as a writer?
P.S.: Thanks to my ear infection, I now know what the Eustachian tube is.