This is my update on how I’m coping with Long Covid now it’s been over fifteen months since I first got ill, which I’m adding to my Sunday Post blog, hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Reviewer.

My grandmother had a saying, “What goes up must come down.” And yes… it absolutely applies to my current situation. After celebrating my triumphant return to something approaching my life before I got sick with Covid – I then had another relapse that lasted nearly a fortnight, where I spent most of the day in bed again, feeling utterly exhausted. And this time around it was a lot harder to endure after having once more felt like the person I used to be.

The good news is that I know exactly what triggered this setback – my hospital appointment at the Breast Care Clinic, where I had a thorough exam by a consultant, a mammogram and ultrasound scan – just to ensure that some of my Long Covid symptoms weren’t masking something far more sinister and life-shortening. I was so impressed at the efficient and kindly staff and I’m delighted to be able to report that all is well. But the appointment was over three hours long and entailed having to get dressed and undressed a number of times and was also rather emotionally gruelling, as well as extremely painful at times. Small wonder that I was knocked back afterwards.

The huge light at the end of this tunnel is that I am now able to write, once my energy levels improved again. I’ve been editing for a while – but not said too much about it, as initially every time I mentioned I was able to work on my manuscripts, I then promptly found I couldn’t. And it massively mattered to me that I’d lost my ability to write – to be honest, it’s been one of hardest things I’ve had to cope with. And – yes – I know I’ve been regularly knocking out a steady stream of reviews. But while I enjoy recording my responses to the books I’ve read, I don’t define myself creatively by my non-fiction output. For me, it’s always been about the stories I tell. I’ve been writing science fiction and fantasy for longer than I care to think and to quote the late great Terry Pratchett, ‘Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself.’ I’ll fully endorse that! And when I simply didn’t have the mental energy to hold a character and his story in my head long enough to get it down onto the page, I was devastated. Though the big silver lining was said lack of energy meant that devastation was overlaid by a Zenlike calm caused by my inability to feel very much about anything. So when this week, I finally completed the chapter I’d started before I went down with Covid, I wept with relief that my secret dread – that I’d never regain my ability to write – hasn’t come to pass. I’m thrilled that dear old Castellan is back in my life in all his grumpy glory😊.

Our Boomerang Boy is back with us this weekend, which is another joy. He cycled over on Friday night and will be going home again later today. We went shopping together in Rustington yesterday – he is such good company. And today, my sister is coming over to see us, which is also such a treat. Himself is, as ever, my rock and my saviour – even though my relapse coincided with his annual leave so that we ended up doing very little and going nowhere together, despite optimistic plans for day trips to places we’ve missed seeing for the past year and bit. I’m so blessed that his love, constancy and care has never faltered.

This week I’ve read:-

Veiled Threat – Book 3 of the Highland Magic series by Helen Harper
Integrity Taylor has regained possession of her ancestral lands – and inherited a whole host of new problems. The spectre of what really happened to her parents is casting a shadow over everything while Fomori demons are being sighted up and down the Highlands. It doesn’t help that Aifric Moncrieffe still seems determined to see her dead and emerald-eyed Byron remains stubbornly blind to his father’s true nature.

Integrity is determined to stay in control of her own destiny, however, even if it means confronting the darkness across the Veil yet again. And at least she’s still got a sense of humour…
Harper has nailed writing feisty heroines facing huge odds, who cope with dollops of often inappropriate humour – which I thoroughly enjoy. This latest adventure also has brought some intriguing twists to the ongoing narrative arc, which means it won’t be long before I tuck into the next book, which I think is the final one in this entertaining series. Which, I’m dreading – as I’ve grown very fond of Integrity. 9/10

AUDIOBOOK – Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip
Brenden Vetch has a gift. With an innate sense he cannot explain to himself or describe to others, he connects to the agricultural world, nurturing gardens to flourish and instinctively knowing the healing properties each plant and herb has to offer. But Brenden’s gift isolates him from people–and from becoming part of a community.

Until the day he receives a personal invitation from the wizard Od. She needs a gardener for her school in the great city of Kelior, where every potential wizard must be trained to serve the Kingdom of Numis. For decades the rulers of Numis have controlled the school, believing they can contain the power within it–and punish any wizard who dares defy the law.But unknown to the reigning monarchy is the power possessed by the school’s new gardener–a power that even Brenden isn’t fully aware of, and which is the true reason Od recruited him…
This standalone fantasy adventure is a joy. I was hugely impressed by McKillip’s The Forgotten Beasts of Eld – see my review. So jumped at the chance to tuck into this one when it came up as a freebie with my Audible membership. And I wasn’t disappointed – it’s stood the test of time very well. I particularly enjoyed the shafts of dry humour throughout and loved dear Brendon. Though it’s a pity that the cover decided to depict Od as some glamorous maiden, when McKillip is at such pains to describe her so very differently. 9/10

Death and Hard Cider – Book 19 of the Benjamin January series by Barbara Hambly
September, 1840. A giant rally is being planned in New Orleans to stir up support for presidential candidate William Henry Harrison: the Indian-killing, hard-cider-drinking, wannabe “people’s president”. Trained surgeon turned piano-player Benjamin January has little use for politicians. But the run-up to the rally is packed with balls and dinner parties, and the meagre pay is sorely needed.

Soon, however, January has more to worry about than keeping his beloved family fed and safe. During an elegant reception thrown by New Orleans’ local Whig notables, the son of a prominent politician gets into a fist-fight with a rival over beautiful young flirt Marie-Joyeuse Maginot – and, the day after the rally is over, Marie-Joyeuse turns up dead. The only black person amongst the initial suspects is arrested immediately: January’s dear friend, Catherine Clisson. With Catherine’s life on the line, January is determined to uncover the truth and prove her innocence. But his adversaries are powerful politicians, and the clock is ticking . . .
What a treat. Hambly’s vivid evocation of the time and place had me dreaming of it – and I am just a bit in love with Benjamin January. It’s the first time I’ve read this series, but it certainly won’t be the last. 10/10

AUDIOBOOK – Destroyer – Book 7 (Sequence 3, Book 1) of the Foreigner series by C.J. Cherryh
It has been two years since the starship Phoenix left Alpha Station on a rescue mission where over four thousand human spacers were under attack by a hostile alien race. Now, exhausted from their journey, the crew of the Phoenix yearns for home. But when the ship makes the jump into atevi space, they learn the worst: that supplies to the station have been cut off; that civil war has broken out on the atevi mainland; that the powerful Western Association has been overthrown; and that Tabini-aiji, Bren Cameron’s primary supporter and Ilisidi’s grandson and ally, is missing and may be dead.

With no one left to lead the Western Association, Ilisidi and Bren know that the survival of their allies lies in their hands. And with the atevi world at war, the only safe landing strip lies on the human colony at Mospheira. Although there are many dangers inherent in bringing a powerful atevi leader such as Ilisidi onto human lands, Bren realizes they have no other choice. But even if they safely survive their landing, will Bren and Ilisidi together prove strong enough to muster the remaining shards of the Western Association and regain control of their planet?

The long-running Foreigner series can also be enjoyed by more casual genre readers in sub-trilogy installments. Destroyer is the 7th Foreigner novel. It is also the 1st book in the third subtrilogy.
This audiobook was a lifesaver during a couple of particularly wretched nights when I simply couldn’t sleep, despite feeling utterly exhausted – not a combination I recommend. Daniel May’s brilliant narration brought poor old Bren’s current woes to life and had me crouching in the pouring rain alongside him, hoping that all his associates would survive the desperate battle raging around him. This series really comes into its own when listening to it and I’m delighted there are plenty more Foreigner adventures to enjoy. 9/10

Delusions of the Past – Reg Rawlins #6 – Books 4-6 of the Reg Rawlins, Psychic Investigator series by P.D. Workman
What kind of a monster poisons a psychic’s cat? When Starlight first fell ill, Reg thought that she was the cause of it. She should have been watching him more carefully. She should have found out about household plants and chemicals that could hurt her familiar. She was clearly a negligent owner.

But it soon becomes clear that there is some darker force at work, and Reg is going to need all of her resources to find the culprit before it is too late if she is to have any chance of saving her furry companion’s life.
I really enjoy this series. Some cosy mystery series are so slathered in treacle they become frankly sickly – this one isn’t. In amongst the cute pets and intriguing fantasy creatures is a hard edge that means the story can often take an unexpected turn to a place just dark enough to keep me turning the pages, desperate to discover what happens next. And with Workman, you can’t ever really predict what that will be… I’ve just spent money we don’t really have to buy the next bundle, because I want more Reg Rawlins in my life. 8/10

This week I have posted:

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of Death and Hard Cider – Book 19 of the Benjamin January series by Barbara Hambly

*NEW RELEASE SPECIAL* Review of The Knave of Secrets by Alex Livingston

Can’t-Wait-Wednesday featuring The Veiled Masters: a Twilight Imperium novel by Tim Pratt

Thank you so much for visiting and commenting. I’m aware that right now, it’s a very one-sided relationship and I don’t know when I’ll be able to fully reciprocate. In the meantime, do take care and try to keep well.

34 responses »

  1. I know what you mean by how hard those doctor appointments can be, even when you’re not sick! So exhausting. I had a few of them this past month, and just wanted to curl up afterwards.

    I hope you feel 100% soon!

  2. Dear Sarah! Aaah I am so sorry to hear you had a bit of a relapse again. Here’s to hoping and praying that it won’t happen again and only recovery from here on. I am so happy for you that you are writing again! I can imagine how wonderful that must be for you. May inspiration just flow and your best work ever come out of all these set backs.

    Thanks for visiting us and take care of yourself!

    Lots of Love

  3. I’ve heard that Covid can be so much rougher the second time around. And long Covid can be SO devastating.

    “Writing is the most fun you can have by yourself”. Love that! and I’m so glad you’re feeling your writing mojo again. I think sometimes for writers it is almost like breathing- something you have to do…

    I’ve never read the Foreigner series but I really enjoyed her (older) Morgaine books…

    • Thank you, Greg:)). I tried reading the Foreigner series some years ago – but listening to them has brought them alive. And I have got hold of the audiobook of Downbelow Station – which I’m really looking forward to. That and Heavy Time are two of my alltime favourites of hers…

      • If you do get a chance to find it again – or pick up another copy, I do highly recommend it. At her very best, Cherryh is genius at producing claustrophobic, tension-filled situations with thorougly relatable characters.

  4. I am glad that the doctors found nothing. If anything goes as planned, I will have my mammography screening in July. Not happy about it though…. It sounds so good that you are still recovering from Long Covid despite all your setbacks. Stay strong and have a wonderful new week.

    • Yes… all those examinations are a bit grim, aren’t they? Though I’m glad they are available – I know at least one friend who discovered a lump small enough to treat successfully by attending their breast screening appointment. I hope that you, too, are having a good week:)).

  5. I understand all about hard doctor’s appointments. I recently had a CT scan (neither the tumor/mass/whatever nor the nodules had grown or changed since the last scan–HOORAY!) and the hour’s drive to get to the hospital, the waiting for my turn (I always arrive too early), and the hour’s drive home nearly did me in. I’m SOOOO glad you are beginning to feel good enough to write again. God bless you.

    • Thank you for your kind good wishes, Rae:)). Urg! That does sound really gruelling – though I’m glad the results were positive. And yes – it’s such a relief to be able to write again!

  6. It’s indeed a big, brightly shining light the one at the other end of that tunnel, because it’s clear from your words that connecting again with your creativity gave you so much joy. And this beats every other kind of improvement you’ve mentioned so far – for which I’m very glad 🙂

  7. Oh no. I’m sorry to hear about your relapse. It sounds, from my POV, that maybe each relapse is not lasting as long as the previous one? Maybe that’s a good sign? I can only hope! So glad you’re writing again. That’s a huge deal and definitely should be celebrated!

    • Thank you, SJ for your kind concern. No… two weeks seems to be the timescale that the more major setbacks last. What has improved is how much better I feel once I’ve recovered. And yes – being able to write again is a major step forward. I hope you’re having a good week:)).

  8. So sorry that you’ve had a relapse Sarah but hearing the description of that appointment I can see why – it sounds a little bit exhausting tbf.
    Hope you’re feeling a little better and it must also be a relief to know that you’ve been thoroughly checked out and have the all clear.
    Lynn 😀

    • Thank you for your kind concern, Lynn:). Oh, it’s a huge relief – especially as it had been a while since I’d managed to attend a Breast Clinic check-up, what with one thing and another…

  9. I am so happy to hear you are able to write again, Sarah. I can only imagine how that must feel. Hopefully the positive feelings from these steps forward will keep the setbacks at bay. The love and care of family is such a blessing.

  10. I know that the relapse must have been difficult and likely triggered a lot of emotions, but I can’t focus on the most positive aspect of this post: that you were able to write again. I can relate a lot to the fear of not being able to write “ever again”, so I can imagine how great of a relied it must have been to put words on a page again. I hope that as I catch up with your posts (only 3 months late instead of a year or more! 😉 ), I’ll see many more positive signs of your progress and recovery.

    • Oh yes! I recall how huge it was to be able to write once more. It was such a long time before I felt able to even attempt to try – the brain fog simply wouldn’t allow me to focus for long enough to get anything straight in my head… Book reviews simply don’t count, by the way:))).

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