It’s a snow day, Tennessee-style (which means we’ll get maybe two cm of snow, but tons of ice which we don’t have the infrastructure to combat), so I am home from work.
I’ve got a bunch of changes in my professional life planned for 2016: I am minimizing the number of titles Upper Rubber Boot Books puts out every year (in 2015, we had 5 titles including two anthologies I edited or co-edited, and in 2014 we had 11 titles—9 were short stories so less work than a full-length book, but still). For 2016 and 2017, I will be releasing two titles only: Floodgate and an anthology. 2016’s anthology is The Museum of All Things Awesome and That Go Boom, an adventure sci-fi anthology I am also editing (Facebook updates here), and 2017’s is not announced yet (but stuff is happening, and that one I won’t be editing).
All of this is in the service of being able to write more. I want to keep this site more updated, instead of (or in addition to) posting all my thoughts to social media where they effectively disappear after a few days. I have ideas for three different novels, two of which I’ve written a bit on, and about 20 short stories, and I need to do some writing (probably mostly poetry, and some non-fiction) about my trip to Kenya.
My day job is supporting four otolaryngologists (ENT doctors) who mostly concentrate on head and neck cancers and other issues of the head and neck. (I do a bunch of other stuff too, like running some lecture series, etc., but that’s not important for the purposes of this story.) They have medical missions in Africa (currently: Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda) and took me to Malindi, Kenya this past October to help with their two-week surgical camp in Tawfiq Hospital.
The University of Nairobi has an ENT residency, and Kenya has about 60 practicing ENT surgeons. What they don’t have is an equivalent for our head and neck fellowship program, and the State of Tennessee makes it difficult for us to provide fellowship training to doctors whose residency was done outside the US and Canada because we have to jump through too many hoops to get such doctors credentialed for it to be practicable. We have cobbled together some extra training for these surgeons which consists of them doing visiting observational scholarships at our hospital (observational means they don’t touch patients, because of the licensure/credentialing issue) and also attending our surgical camps, where we concentrate on education, so the surgeries are done by our doctors and their doctors in concert. The patients pay nothing, which is a tremendous benefit to them because surgical care is so expensive in relation to the average salary.
|The power keeps going out; they have a backup generator for the OR but not for the clinic. Here we’re using a surgical headlamp as a flashlight.|
|A big keloid (a kind of scar that keeps growing). If I remember correctly, this patient had had jaw surgery and this keloid grew from his incision. Keloids are benign, but can cause problems—this one was painfully pulling on his face. Keloids are very common in Kenya, not for environmental reasons (afaik anyway) as people keep assuming when I tell them this but because they’re something like fifteen times as common in African-descended people than in Caucasians. As you might guess, Africa has a few more Africans than the US does; we saw a lot of keloids.|
|Typical breakfast, including arrowroot, passionfruit, and these great little bananas that were way more flavourful than ours (and pineapple that was almost flavourless).|
|A Swahili adult literacy class I was lucky enough to attend. The Caris Foundation, who paid for our hotel and helped a lot with logistics, took a group of us to see their other local projects.|
|Bank book for a microfinance group for single mothers who run their own businesses. They had spent ten months paying back a 5,000 shilling (US$50) loan and had paid back 2,600 shillings in that time.|
|We had the weekend off, and I went with a smaller group on a safari (privately paid for by each of us). Yay elephant!|
|NBD, just me hanging out in Africa.|
It was an amazing, humbling experience, and as I get pieces published about it, I’ll be sure to link to them.
|In writing news: Choose Wisely: 35 Women Up To No Good, which I co-edited with H. L. Nelson, was nominated earlier in January for the This Is Horror Award (voting ends January 24—go vote now if you liked it!). That was really cool, and also surprising since I hadn’t been thinking of it as a horror anthology. We’d been marketing it as “dark fiction.” But once it was pointed out, I realized it’s totally horror—it contains slashers and zombies and people turning into animals and so forth—it’s just also genre-crossing. I’ll be surprised if it wins (the other anthology nominees are all really good too and probably better known) but it was lovely just to be nominated.|