Living in Interesting Times

With Eric, Eric, Eric the ‘Arf a Fish

Last week I acquired a new constant companion. The front end looks like a fish, I’ve never seen the rear end; it could like a horse, a toaster oven, or maybe a fish. It only swims backwards from left to right. I call it Eric… Eric the ‘alf a fish. The part I’ve seen has two mouths, but that’s ok… it doesn’t bite. On the other hand, it does have some odd behaviour. It eats words. If there’s a page of text, it eats the right half, then works its way left to leave only a few letters on each line.

Eric is there if I close my left eye. Eric is there if I close my right eye. Eric is there is I close both eyes. (hence my use of the term ‘constant’ when describing what kind of companion Eric is…)
Eric, Eric, Eric the ‘arf a Fish…

Thirty-eight point six is a magic number: if my temperature reaches this high while on chemotherapy, I am supposed to go directly to the emergency room (do not pass go, do not collect $200). It hits thirty-nine. This indicates I have an infection that my torn and bloodied immune system cannot manage. Also, I have a tendency to fall down every time I stand up (more than this actually) and that strikes me as out of the ordinary also.

For the first time in my life, I am wheeled through Emergency without any waiting whatsoever, and straight into an isolation room. Interesting. I make a point of not thinking about how scary this could be to some people. Doctors and mean girls with needles examine me for a couple of hours. I have an infection, they take a swab but they never determine what it is. Turns out my haemoglobin is now 42… that’s right… the answer to life the universe and everything… 42… a happy cheerful amusing number, except that it’s supposed to be about 160. One nurse observes that she’s never had a conversation with someone whose haemoglobin was 42 before… also, my white blood count is way down (well, my immune system is in collapse). They give me 6 units of blood (Redpacks… thanks to all you donors out there) some platelets, and enough antibiotics to choke a rhinoceros. Oh and hey… they gave Eric a name: patrichial haemorrhages
Eric, Eric, Eric the patrichial haemorrhages

Eric should go away as soon as my infection clears up and my immune system recovers.
I also have patricial haemorrhages in my nose/mouth but they don’t smell/taste fishy, so that’s alright.

For a few weeks I may be able to write, but I wont’ be able to read. This may mean that what I write will not meet my usual standards…

Well, the last few weeks… maybe the last couple of months, have been interesting (in the sense of the Chinese Curse, “may you live in interesting time”. I’ve been withdrawn from my last chemotherapy protocol (I suppose that’s a good idea since it was killing me what with dropping my haemoglobin to 42 and crushing my immune system). My lump-doctor broke up with me…she sees no need to see me any more. No matter what we call him… Eric is still with me, although he has evolved into a general blur. But then, one cannot complain about that sort of thing; I’ve realised for some time now that everything is evolving into a blur .

Marduk23's picture

To hell with Eric...

I'm going on the impression that your new friend may keep you from reading this... so hopefully some kind soul in your area will read this to you. So I say "to hell with Eric" and we'll bypass his shenanigans!
There are many here in the Midwest that are crossing whatever appendages deemed appropriate, and want you to know that our thoughts are with you. Okay, they're with Eric too - seeing that he's your new friend and all.
I've had far too many friends with advanced illnesses over the years, and it pains me to see yet another person I admire tread water in the same pool. Some of them made miraculous recoveries, however, so I hope to read one day that you've joined their ranks. :-) Until that time, I'll make a deal with you: You keep fighting, and I'll keep reading.

macgorgor's picture

If that's a curse...

To make a counterpoint, living in interesting times still seems a bargain over dying of boredom. So it's nice to learn you don't seem bored at all, what with all the rushing to Emergency, flurry of needles and final answer to life, the universe, and everything.


LeifM's picture

Sorry to hear....

Hello Mr. Crossby,

I'm very sorry to hear about how things are at present. My mother was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and that disease is a real son of a bitch. Honestly, what a crap-ola set of circumstances. I was hoping I'd get the opportunity to meet you at Harncon but by the sounds of it, that doesn't seem like an overly promising prospect. At times like this, I haven't a clue what to say. I'm not certain what can be said to help you or your situation. I'm not sure anything can be said to help the way things are.

I just want to say that the work you've done has doubtlessly touched countless people and given them hours of fun, pleasure, entertainment and enjoyment. I wanted to share with you two particularly hilarious and uniquely "harnic" deaths. Hopefully someone can relay these to you and you can get a chuckle or two from them.

Some ten or twelve years ago, in a basement in Burnaby I was running a game of Harn. Without fail my PCs ended up as serfs and after a few sessions of groveling for the lord they decided they'd make a run for it in the dead of winter. So, in an ill advised bid for freedom, off they set into the coldest winter my pHarn had ever seen.

The first PC had left wearing very little. Basic rags, homespun, home made shoes, a length of hard-won rope as a belt, all the things that make Harn the best game ever. Well this wayward soul spent a bit too much time out in the cold and I had to employ the frostbite mechanics. After rolling location to see where he was frostbitten, I couldn't have been more surprised to see he'd received a frostbite injury to the groin! My god, of all the things... frostbite to the nuts. Well, the funny thing was that this particular PC had some psionic talents, in fact, he had the healing talent and upon hearing his nuts had been stricken by the icy grip of winter, he lustily employed his powers. Well... I think you know where this is going. Yep, critical failure. Shock roll. Critical failure. Subsequent shock rolls to snap out of the downward spiral? Failures or critical failures. Really, a very comic situation. Though he died in fact from imprudent use of psionic talents, we like to remember his death as the result of a case of frostbite to the junk.

The second PC survived that incident, had a good laugh and pushed forward into the wilderness. Somewhere south of Jedes if I remember correctly, into the friendly lands of the Pagaelen. Well, soon enough his provisions ran low. Before he could say 'What in the name of Peoni?' he was in a starvation situation. Getting weaker and weaker by the moment he used his minimal tracking skills and turned up the tracks of a wolf. Facing certain death he decided that the only course of action was to track down said wolf and bludgeon it to death with a rock and eat it. Certainly a wonderfully Harnic idea. Well, he tracked the wolf to its den and waited for it to emerge. As luck would have it though, he arrived while the wolf was out hunting. Being that he was perched over the opening of the wolf's den with a rock in hand, waiting to bludgeon the poor wolf to death, the wolf was never able to return home to its den. Having grown tired of waiting for his meal to emerge, the PC decided it was time to crawl into the den and extract his meal by force. So, contrary to warnings, in he went. After a number of rolls, most of which were critical or minor failures, he promptly became lodged in said hole. Woe betide the PC that is stuck head first in a wolf's den, for eventually, the wolves will come home. Come home they did, to find said PC stuck head first in their den, completely unable to move. Well, being as it was winter, they too were hungry and lustily accepted the offering placed at their table and devoured the PC, feet first, all the way to his skull.

Now, I don't know if I was applying the rules correctly, but here we sit, a dozen years later, and I as well as my PCs remember every detail of those particularly hilarious and Harnic deaths. We've played all kinds of D&D in the time since and I can't tell you how any of the D&D characters died. I can however remember virtually every death of every character that I ever ran through Harn.

To me, that says a lot. It says a lot about just how great and impactful your creation is and has been. I know this does nothing to change your situation, but hopefully, these are two "Harnic" deaths you've never heard before and hopefully they've given you a bit of a chuckle. With any luck I'll see you at Harncon and I can relate the lurid details to you.

Thanks for everything. We all owe you a lot.

All the best,

- Leif

adelia's picture

Robin my old friend

I am Adelia. I am a Peoni cleric from Robin's first world in the 1960's. We spent many long hours together with our friends, exploring, plundering and living our simpler lives. Robin also entertained us with guitar and voice. He is a creative genius. We were influenced greatly by our dear friend Brad, whom I know shall soon take over care for Robin until we get there. I am writing because I have been touched by your comments and well-wishes for Robin. Please know that, although he can not read or answer your comments, the good energy reaches him. He is surrounded and supported by his high-school sweetheart-wife, children and dogs and is, beneath it all, an amazing
'character' and still the wonder that created not only Harn, but such more mundane endeavours as SPLUD (the society for the preservation of large, unpleasant dragons) and inspired in us all the love of other worlds and times. As Robin said in his last blog, things are evolving into a blur for him. I will take him your wishes for a clearing vision of the worlds and times he has created and may he find them gleaming to welcome him.

GronkGroks's picture

To Adelia for Robin...

Kethira gleams in the way that Tolkien's Middle-Earth gleamed,
with a magic and realism that only the truly inspired things obtain.
Robins's brilliance in creating a place that his fans have come to love
will accompany him where ever he may go.

May the Sindarin of the Shava Forest welcome him,
May the Earthmaster(s) of antiquity rejoice,
May the Khuzul of Azadmere hold in reverence
May the Shek-Pvar of Melderyn be in awe,

For Robin has brought life to them all.

adelia's picture

your message to Robin

Robin received your message this morning. He is comfortable as he can be in a lovely hospice and appreciated your words. He is hoping to get the internet hooked up in his room so he can continue his blog - don't be surprised if the one true Harnmaster himself appears on these pages again one day soon! He is a remarkable man, a true inspiration and cares very much about you all! Thank you for giving him such a welcome for his passion.

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