Health report

About three weeks ago I developed a toothache–lower left canine.  Thanks to Will and Emma, I found a really, really good dentist.  Good people, good doctors, and there is an especially hot dental assistant.  The canine seemed fine, but the four front teeth next to it Had To Go.  I got what’s called a “flipper” (I named it Dolphin, of course) to replace them.  Unfortunately, the tooth didn’t stop hurting.  It’s been getting worse.  Usually, it’s fine as long as I’m upright, but when I lie down, it is very very painful.  This, of course, means an inability to sleep.

A few days ago it reached the point where the drugs (percoset, motrin) weren’t helping.  We finally decided that Something Had To Be Done.  We rejected referred pain, sinus problems, heart complications.  However healthy that tooth seems, it had to go.  So I scheduled an appointment with a dental surgeon.  I got up to go in on Thursday, walked down the stairs, and couldn’t catch my breath.  I should have known things were going to go wrong when Hot Dental Assistant didn’t want to out with me.

Fuck.  The term is, “congestive heart failure,” and you don’t want to fuck around with it.  The only sane thing to do is skip the dentist appointment and go into the ER.  Right?  Yeah, but, the tooth HURT.  So I went to the oral surgeon.  The oral surgeon, being smarter than me, sent me to an urgent care, where they did an EKG and decided it looked sort of marginal, and sent me to an ER, who checked me in.

I spent Thursday night at Nicolet Park Methodist Hospital.  Now, you may say that Mr. Wesley and the other Methodies are over rightous, but they make a fine, fine hospital.  The staff was wonderful, taking more than good care of me, and, while they couldn’t make the tooth stop hurting, they never stopped trying, or stopped caring.

So, yeah, there was fluid in my lungs.  They got my heart stabilized, and let me go last night.  Corwin, Dee, Carolyn, Aliera, Toni, and Martin all showed up, as did my friend Betsy, and Will.  Was wonderful to feel so supported.  Summer Glau didn’t call, but that was probably because she was busy.  Or else because she’s never heard of me.

Last night, for no reason I can think of, my tooth stopped hurting.  I got 11 beautiful hours of sleep.  Today, the tooth hurts a bit, but nowhere near where it was.  I dunno.  I guess I’ll talk to the dentist on Monday.

I’m now on more drugs: something to keep my heart beat regular, and a mild diuretic.   I’m told I could use an operation to insert something into my chest that will shock my heart if it goes into, uh, I don’t remember.  Ventrical a-fib, maybe?  But it’s supposed to keep me alive.  I can no more afford the operation than I can pay the hospital bills I just incurred, BUT….

I met with a social worker, who seems confident she can get me heath care–enough to help with those bills, and get the operation, and fix my teeth, and even deal with the fucking polyp in my nose that’s been making life interesting for several years.  This is very, very good news.  I am actually feeling hopeful.

Maybe I’ll ask Hot Dental Assistant out again.


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0 thoughts on “Health report”

  1. I’m glad you got such great care and hope the msw can help get you what you need to be healthy and pain free.

    As for Summer? I’m sure she didn’t want to keep you from getting your rest.

  2. So… I’m guessing now would be an especially good time to replace those books of yours that an evil friend of mine absconded with rather than buy his own copies… It has been bothering me to have those holes in my collection.

  3. Dang… we’ve been thinking good thoughts for you down here in Texas since your trip, apparently to no avail.

    Let us know if there’s anything we can do.

  4. Thanks for the kind words, all. As for money, I appreciate the thought, but either it won’t be necessary (if the social worker comes through), or I’ll be so buried there’s no point in even thinking about it. Seriously. At various times in the past, people have come through for me when I was broke and desperate, and I appreciate it more than I can say. But this time, I hope and believe, money isn’t an issue.

  5. Sorry to hear about the health issues, but glad to hear that you received good care and family and friend support.

  6. Teeth often suffer from “referred pain”; heart issues, in particular, can often result in some pretty bad tooth pain.

  7. Thanks for the update. Have been worried since hearing about the EKG the other night … and hoping that not hearing anything more meant Good News.
    Be well.

  8. I’m sorry to hear that you’re health isn’t the best, but really glad to hear that you’re getting healthcare that will make things better! Tooth pain is the WORST ever. I was never so grateful as when that damn nerve finally died…

    Take care of yourself, do what the doctors tell you to do, because damn it, the world isn’t done with you yet.

    …love you.

  9. Ack, I was afraid that it was you when Will posted about a friend who needed surgery.

    I hope the social worker is right. Between the remnants of Minnesota’s once-wonderful health care and the ACA, it could work out quite well. All appendages crossed.


  10. Steve,

    I know a bit about your troubles and I empathize with your distress. I am glad to hear that you are on the mend.

    There are many types of heart problems (I learned that the hard way), some of them aren’t too bad. They all suck but some are suckier … Diuretics are good. I prefer Aldactizide but whatever removes the fluid will have you feeling much better.

    I know this is presumptuous but heart disease is no joke. I strongly recommend an echocardiogram (looks for mechanical defects … valves, wall thickness, et al), and a stress test with Tc99 as a contrast medium (looks for muscular perfusion issues, blockages, etc).

    I’m no MD and I apologize if this post offends, but I have had “heart disease” for over 10 years, I’m a little clever, and extremely demanding with regards to answers from MDs.

    If you are feeling better then I am very glad. If you do nothing to determine your cause(s) and specific form of heart disease and subsequently pass early I will be sad. Please don’t fool around with this.

  11. Crap, Steve! I’m so sorry to hear about all of that! I’m glad you’re getting good care – heart stuff is NOTHING to fool with! Have they ruled out the tooth thing being caused by the heart thing? Anyway, get better soon!

  12. Take care of yourself, Steve! I’m glad that it seems you’ve found some providers you can trust.

  13. What Jane said. We only have one of you, please be a little easier on him. And the hot assistant obviously lacks taste. Hugs.

  14. Yikes! Be well sir, and do what the nice people in the white coats tell you. I hope the pain issues clear up quickly and the heart and money issues resolve themselves in your favor.

    Though you may yet weary of the world, sir, this world will never weary of you. Be well.

  15. Uff da, what a thing. We will be hoping for the best. Not sure that there’ll be anything we can do, but if there is, speak up.

  16. Several things factor into that, but one of the biggest is that I’m terrible at managing money. Characters I can do; money not so much.

  17. Well, I will say that with a little persistence the State of MN came through for us when we needed them and it sounds like you landed up with a good social worker. Hopefully that will get worked out. Hope it does and that you are soon feeling better, you are one of the people that makes this world a little more special.

  18. Oh, by the way: the percoset wasn’t for the toothache per se, it was for the aftermath of the four teeth that I had extracted trying to cure the toothache.

  19. Bet you never thought you would be thankful for a toothache! Glad to hear you are feeling better.

  20. How strange and yet ultimately good that your toothache at least led to your heart being taken proper care of! Good luck – I hope the pain continues to abate and everything else gets better.

    Maybe the next time I see you at K&B’s for dinner I’ll make something marginally heart-healthy. :-)

  21. Yowza! I was worried for a bit, but glad to know you’re doing much better and are all hopeful and stuff. Cat and I still have much use for you! All our best hugs and wishes! Hope to still see you in November; if not, we’ll have to plan a trip to see you ourselves, dang it!

    Oh, and Summer Glau sends her warmest regards and a wish for a speedy recovery! She would have been delighted to call, but admits she doesn’t have your number, claiming its unlisted and no one will give it to her. But she’s looking forward to reading Hawk… ;)

  22. Who knows more about CHF than me? Well, a lot of experts, but shit… Am going to have words with people. You keep on.


  23. Mr. Brust, I wish you good health and freedom from pain. I hope you make a full and swift recovery.
    As for the money problems, hopefully your social worker can pull a Krager and somehow make it all work out. Or would that be pulling a Vlad? What I mean is that you should get someone to do the legwork (or, as Krager would put it, the real work) and maximize efficiency.
    Anyway, I just wanted to tell you that your works are an inspiration to young writers like me, and an example of real literature that stands strong amid the passing fads of popular culture.Thank you. Get well soon.

  24. Good grief, Steve. Stop worrying your poor friends and family and get better. That’s an order!

    (Seriously though, glad you’re ok.)

  25. Just tell them who you are and let them know if they ever want to see another Taltos book that they better see to it that you get better. You have so many fans, some of them have to work at the hospital.

    Seriously though, I’ll keep a good thought.

  26. I hope the social worker turns you down. You have assets like the rights to your characters that you could sell before asking for a handout.

    There are whole generations of families stuck in the cycle of poverty who legitimately need those resources that are apparently going to the irresponsibility rich.

  27. Well, on behalf rational people everywhere, I’ll just say a quick “fuck you” to Evrett. Sorry for the profanity, anyone sensitive to such things, but I can’t think of any more fitting response. I mean, what the hell?

    Mr. Brust, I wish you a swift recovery. I won’t offer health advice, or financial, since what kind of weirdo would want that from a stranger?

  28. Best wishes for wise doctors, effective social services, and a quick recovery!

  29. Dammit. Get better and write me some more books.

    (Also: Every time the subject of money comes up in a discussion of ill health, I curse those Third Way bastards who prevented us from having a decent health care system. This better not be an issue!)

  30. Evrett, you’re delusional.

    First, although I’m sure the rights to Steve’s characters are worth quite a bit to Steve, they aren’t really worth that much to anybody else. After all if John I-Just-Bought-the-Rights Doe tried publishing any books based on these characters who would buy them? And as much as we might like them to be, Steve’s universe isn’t really designed to be turned into a movie property. So the idea that Steve could fund serious medical bills by selling these rights is more of a fantasy than are Steve’s books.

    And so is the idea that Steve got rich from his writing. I don’t know what Steve has been paid for his writing, and it’s none of my or your business, but I do know that as much as we love his books, and hopefully all buy them, they don’t all hit number one on the best sellers list. Further Steve isn’t one of those authors who pump out a new book every few months, or even every 12 months.

    I’d love it if Steve had gotten rich from this. He certainly has provided most of us with many hours of enjoyment. But the number of authors who truly get rich, particularly without branching out to writing screenplays, is a very small percentage of the total.

  31. Its absolutely our business if this person is claiming they are so destitute that they need tax dollars (aka social services) to pay their medical bills. Even if being a worldwide published author doesnt for some reason provide the paper..Steve could have have gotten a real job. MCdonalds I hear has great medical benefits.

    Its not “our” job to pay for Steves bad choices in life. And it certainly isnt the kid whos not getting a diabetes pump or the amputee whos not get a better prosthetic to go without while Dick Chaney and Steven Burst use up the limited resources rather than reap what they sow.

  32. A “real” job? Really? Many of those (I’m in one) don’t provide benefits, and I suspect I make more than most published, full-time authors (or actors, painters, singers…) Your view is punishing the arts more than a kid who needs medical coverage.

    And comparing Dick Chaney to our Steve (though I don’t know a Steven Burst) is laughable. Literally, I think that’s just funny. Gotta tell my friend Amanda about that one; she’ll get a kick out of it…

  33. People, quit dumping on Evrett. If you’ve been reading his posts all along, and looked at what he does and doesn’t understand, you should have picked up that the kid is, like, 15 years old. Let’s not turn him into a bitter internet troll before he gets out of high school, all right?

  34. Makes sense, but it does remind me of the age-old question, “Are internet trolls made or born?”

    Also, Steve, let me join my voice to the chorus wishing you speedy and successful medical interventions followed by many more years of worry-free health.

  35. Very sorry to hear. Wishing you a successful recovery and good health in the future.

  36. Hope you’re feeling better after having such a scare! Take care of yourself, and I’m sending you good thoughts all the way from Australia

  37. You are welcome to come stay here in Brazil to recover.

    Cold fruit drinks ( sans alcohol til you recover)
    Cool mountain rainforests
    Warm tropical beaches
    Hot women to help you recover faster

    My best prescriptions for a speedy recovery.
    Seriously, best prayers and wishes coming to you from South America.

  38. Ken @62

    it is heart problems … maybe you could hold the hot women back until he’s fully recovered?

  39. Steve–

    I read about your problems on the trufen mailing list. I knew both your wonderful parents in the Workers League and SEP. Please have a speedy, complete recovery.


  40. I am glad to hear you are feeling better and hope that you continue on in that same manner.

  41. Yikes! I was just in Vegas for Corflu Glitter, but as you didn’t go in 2008, I wasn’t surprised you weren’t there. But no one mentioned you at all. I hope you recover completely.

  42. Best wishes and get well. Thanks for all the hours I’ve spent immersed in your books.

  43. Geep! Best wishes for a quick recovery and blessings on that social worker especially if she can get you the funding. I’d check with SFWA too, though I think the emergency fund is for loans rather than outright grants.

  44. $10,000 cash for the rights to all your literary assets.

    So you can now either except my offer or continue to defraud the government and some poor charity by suggesting you lack the ability to pay your bills.

    Shame on all of you enablers. Your platitudes are allowing him to slowly kill himself and the literature.

  45. Everett, are you misinformed or are you trolling? If the point of your accusations is to highlight perceived wrongdoings in the current system, then look up “Trotskyist sympathizer.” You will find that you are preaching to the choir here. That is what Mr. Brust and most everyone else here believes to.
    If you are trolling, then I will point out that you are posting comments that raise the blood pressure of most who read them, and you are doing so on the weblog of a man who just had medical heart problems. With all due respect, try and show some consideration for that.
    As a note on trolls, if my opinion is worth anything to those here, it is best to not let them get a rise out of you. Ignore them, don’t give in to the aggravating things they say, and most likely they will get bored. It is the response they thrive on. I myself am going to implement that policy starting now, and troll-like responses to this will be ignored.
    Again, Mr. Brust, I wish you well and hope for your good fortune, in health, finance and all other areas.

  46. Evrett:

    Your last response shows a failure to understand the economies involved in obtaining medical treatment in the U.S., a failure to understand how civilized communities take care of themselves, and it’s also just insulting — to Steve and the rest of us.

    I don’t know whether you’ve ever experienced a need for serious medical attention in your life, and I don’t wish that need on you. But the bills for the work Steve may need to have done are likely to total somewhere in six figures rather than five. This is just the first point where you rush in without considering the possibility that you may be over your head.

    The second point you might want to consider is what the writers of the U.S. Declaration of Independence intended when they wrote that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

    You may want to take a closer look at the various ways that human civilizations (including, but not limited to, 20th-21st Century Western nation-states) have dealt with the issue of providing for the common good of the community by looking after the well-being of their individual members. A study of the growth of labor unions in the 20th century, and why it’s not desirable for a society to compel people to work on weekends and evenings to have basic food and shelter might be a good place to start.

    You might want to do some research to discover that when a community (through the its government) offers financial assistance to help its members pay medical bills, this isn’t a zero-sum game. Helping one person doesn’t means that the another person is going to be denied help. That’s not how our system works.

    You may perceive that a government can go into debt when the demands on its resources exceed the maintenance income contributed by the members of the community. But you may not be clear on what such a debt actually means to the community as a whole, and to the daily lives and financial fortunes of most of its individual members.

    I don’t expect to convince you that the current focus on our National Debt, instigated by Republican Congress members and funded by their super-rich campaign contributors, is a sham issue — masking the desire of plutocrats to avoid contributing to the maintenance of our community. I’ll leave it as an exercise for you in pursuing your education to answer the question “why should they contribute?” But you can get some help with this, and some understanding the true impact/effect of government debt on a national economy by taking some history and economics classes that provide accurate examinations of the work of John Keynes.

    The third point is your terrible insult to Steve and the rest of us with the suggestion that he intends to defraud anyone by being willing to accept financial assistance to deal with catastrophic medical expenses. As far as metaphoric epithets about killing oneself through thoughtlessness go, it would be you who we should worry about.

  47. Do NOT screw around with CHF. We lost my dad a couple of months ago because he thought he could tough it out. You still have poker to play, books to write and dental assistants to harass.

  48. Nicely said, Lenny. He may well turn that into an essay for a class.

    Jeremy: My condolences on your loss. Believe me, I have no intention of “toughing it out.” I want this fixed. Especially for the benefit of future dental assistants.

  49. I hope you get better. I have enjoyed your books more than sliced bread, heh.

    Maybe you should run for mayor and get free health care, double heh?

    Anyway, Take care.

  50. I continue to send good wishes and hopes for good health and a resolution to the problem. It reminds me of a personal anecdote and seeing as that seems to be my m.o. I offer it for your amusement.

    My first husband had a heart attack a couple of years ago. I’m his HCP and he is close friends to my husband and my kids godfather. Anyway, it’s time to get discharged from the hospital and a resident comes in and sits with us going over the discharge orders. Near the end she smiles at us both and says ” the two of you can resume sexual relations as soon as you are comfortable. He smiled right at her and responded ” Great! I’ll need to clear it with Amysue and her husband first.” I felt bad for the poor doctor, she seemed so embarrassed.

    As for healthcare options, I’m thankful you have some and in an ideal world, ideally kne most of us are working towards, we all would have access to decent and affordable healthcare.

    Be well and maybe for your birthday you can have your very own dental assistant!

  51. Holy shit Steve.

    I know it’s nothing you haven’t heard 10,000 times already but best wishes on a speedy recovery.

    I’ve experienced being told there was something wrong with my heart and also having a doctor discuss the possibility of implanting a defibri-thingy in my chest. Those were not good times and you have my sympathies.

    Did you try asking the social worker if she could get in touch with Summer Glau for you? Couldn’t hurt.

  52. Hang in there, sir. You might get lucky and find a hot cardiopulmonary therapist, or similar.

  53. Best wishes Steven.

    Andre Norton lost to congestive heart failure, and I don’t need another of my fav writers to go the same way, so follow medical advice and get well.

    You can’t go until you’ve gotten all those stories out of your head and onto paper (or electrons, as the case may be).

  54. Just saw this post. I hope that the social worker you mentioned is able to get you the health care that you need very soon, and that you will have a speedy recovery.

  55. Sorry to hear you have been unwell. I would miss you and your books terribly if you went away.

    Fingers crossed for everything to go well with the financial assistance.

  56. Just to say best wishes. After the shock of hearing about Terry Pratchett, I couldn’t bear to see you leaving the scene.

    A friend of mine whose SIL wants to be a writer said to me a couple weeks ago that writing is not something you could make a living at, although you might make a killing at. I don’t understand, Steve, how you have not done the latter.


    Sounds like you had CHF which requires insertion of a “pacemaker” or “dimensional portal to the plane of lightning” to control what sounds like “Atrial fibrillation” which is when your right atria (which passes blood from your body into your heart) turns into jelly and starts to dance like a crazed gypsy trying to outperform a southern baptist parishoner who has been “moved by the spirit”.

    The problem with AFib is that it stops blood circulation to your lungs (which caused “pleural effusion”, or, a build-up of fluid in the lungs). Obviously, since we’re not aquatic creatures, this is a Bad Thing. Furthermore, it means that blood travelling from the lungs to the heart and from there onto the system at large has reduced circulation :(

  58. Jon: So far as I know, the defibrillator they want to put inside my chest is to deal with the risk of sudden death caused by the hypertrophy. I don’t know enough to know if that’s the same thing you’re saying in different words.

    In any case, I’m hopeful that I’ll have effective health coverage in a month or so. Thanks for your concern.

  59. I now have health coverage. And an appointment for tomorrow about the surgery to install the defibrillator.

  60. Oh, that’s good service. It’s only, what, three months later? It’s not like it was something serious, like congestive heart failure or something to that effect. Wait……
    Well, I hope the best for you Steve. Get well soon.

  61. Steve-

    I havent checked Words in awhile and I am sad to hear that your having health issues. I don’t usually post on any of the threads but I am a paramedic and thought I would chime in.

    Atrial fib is not a fun diagnosis. They are recommending you a defibrillator because of the possibility of you entering a fatal arrhythmias called ventricular fibrillation (V-fib) or ventricular tachycardia (V-tach). Both of these rhythms can lead to pulselessness (Asystole).

    A-fib is something a lot of people live with on a day to day basis. Its very treatable with medication and even with a surgical process called a cardiac ablation.

    Good luck with the surgery! Happy writing!

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