On Surgery, Games Writing, and Writing

Published on Jun 15th, 2012 by

So here’s a thing. In January of this year, I thought I found a lump on my collar bone (on the sterno-clavicular joint, if you’re interested in such specifics). Normally I wouldn’t have been concerned, because it did still feel like part of my collar bone, just more prominent, but I’d also been having throat problems since September 2010, on and off (I’d visited the doctor but never really got an answer), and they’d been getting worse, with neck pain, a choking sensation and whatnot. I was referred to an ENT clinic at the hospital, but the appointment wasn’t for another three months through no fault of the hospital/the ENT department, but in the meantime my spinal surgeon wanted to do a CT scan just to be sure the collar bone wasn’t shifting due to any problems with my spine. This was very unlikely to be the case, but worth looking into.

[Note: I suffered from a severe spinal curvature from my early teens to early 20s, it was a pretty extreme case and there were a few aspects of it that were kind of uncommon (such as the fact my lower vertebrae had entirely fused together), so it was pretty debilitating. I had corrective surgery in 2005 but the metal rods holding it together snapped about 18 months later, and in 2009 I had a second bout of surgery - because of the complications and severity of mine, I still get a fair bit of back pain and while I've been given the all-clear in terms of regular spinal checkups, anything untoward still needs looking into.]

So the CT scan came back, and showed absolutely nothing wrong with my collar bone at all, which was nice. However, it did show something wrong with my thyroid on the right-hand side – a swelling. Thyroid swelling can be caused by a number of things, from a malfunctioning thyroid to a thyroid nodule. Thyroid nodules are pretty common, and usually don’t cause any problems at all, although it was very clear in this case that mine *was* causing me problems, as the symptoms (particularly the choking sensation) were getting worse.

So I had my ENT appointment in April, and the specialist performed an endoscopy and confirmed that yes, the thyroid was definitely swollen on the right hand side, and I needed an ultrasound scan to find out exactly what was going on there. A couple weeks later I had that done, and they found a single nodule in my thyroid, 4.3cm in size (for some context, the thyroid gland is normally around 4cm, so this has effectively doubled it in size). While thyroid nodules are normally benign and usually don’t require surgery, they’re more commonly problematic in males, and more commonly problematic if you only have one nodule rather than a few (and, from what I can gather by reading around anyway, they’re rarely quite as big as this). So I had to have a biopsy, and a few weeks later had an appointment to discuss the results. They did not find any malignant cells in the sample they took, which was a relief (although thyroid cancer, while obviously still very nasty, is one of the most treatable cancers, and is largely self-contained). However, there’s no clear results as to what it is at all, so they can’t be 100% certain either way just yet.

By this time (up to and including as I write this) the symptoms have been getting quite consistently worse, particularly the sensation of being choked, which isn’t constant, but comes and goes, and when it’s here, well, it’s like having something tied quite tightly around your neck – not enough to cause serious harm, but enough to give you the sensation that your throat is being uncomfortably constricted. This is because the nodule is pressing against my windpipe, distending it and causing breathing problems, discomfort etc. It also makes it very hard to talk at length at times, and it’s very draining when it kicks in.

The solution is to remove the entire right hand side of my thyroid, which I’ll be having done sometime in the next 10 weeks. I don’t have an exact date yet, but have been told it won’t be long, and the surgical notes point out that the symptoms are getting worse, so hopefully it’ll be sooner rather than later. It’s a surprisingly simple op for what it is, I don’t need to even stay in overnight, but they advise a recovery period off work for a couple weeks afterwards. I’m not entirely sure what to expect, on one hand it’s quite a simple op, very little in the way of potential complications, unlikely I’ll need medication for life afterwards (removing the entire thyroid means this is required, but since it’s only half, the other side SHOULD manage to function normally by itself), with the main risk being temporary damage to my vocal cords (and this is a very small risk anyway). On the other hand, they’re cutting part of my throat out, so y’know.

So there’s that. At the moment, I’m fine at times and other times in a lot of discomfort, feeling very drained etc, and since I know I have impending surgery, I’m taking a hiatus from games writing and the games journalism industry for a while. It’s just not practical to keep it up at the moment, or fair on anyone who I might be writing for if I suddenly have to drop it to have last minute surgery. Instead, I’ll be working on things I can do at my own pace, such as the next part of the script for Richard & Alice, and a full length novel follow-up to Bright Lights & Glass Houses.

I’ve managed to get Bright Lights & Glass Houses released in digital and print form and it’s now essentially ‘out the way’ before all these medical shenanigans kick in, and hopefully sales from that will start to pick up now the print version is out, and at least go some way to making up for the loss of earnings due to the the games writing hiatus.

I’d like to thank everyone at The Telegraph games section, and GameSpot, and various other wonderful people in the industry who’ve supported me, given me a platform, paid me for my words and contributions and encouraged me to write about games, particularly Tom Hoggins, Nick Cowen and Guy Cocker who’ve all given me important, greatly appreciated opportunities that have set various things in motion.

Any support and help offered is greatly appreciated, and if you’d like to do so then >> buying my book << would be an awesome, helpful thing. It’s available in print and ebook form, whichever takes your fancy. All the details are on the link above. I’m hesitant to present it in this context, but the reality is every sale does contribute to me being able to survive off it for the time being. So if you fancy checking it out, it would be much appreciated, as well as spreading the word and whatnot.

- Raze

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Bright Lights, Glass Houses, A Stone’s Throw Away

Published on May 7th, 2012 by

Bright Lights & Glass Houses

The observant among you may have noticed the new link at the top, or you may have noticed me talking about it a lot on Twitter. But if not, my début short story collection, Bright Lights & Glass Houses, is set for imminent release in various digital forms.

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Failed Pitches

Published on Mar 27th, 2012 by

All aspiring games writers know the pain of a rejected pitch. The blogosphere is filled with articles that editors just weren’t willing to take a chance on. Talk to anyone in the industry and they’ll gaze skywards, misty-eyed, and reminisce about that one great piece that would’ve changed the world if only the pitch had been accepted.

A while back, I realised I had some brilliant ideas for video content. I pitched some of these ideas around and never even had a single reply. I can only assume that the world of games journalism isn’t contemporary or progressive enough yet, so in the meantime I thought I’d share my ideas here, and hope aspiring writers can learn a thing or two about what editors do and don’t want.

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A List Of The Top 10 Best Games Writers

Published on Mar 7th, 2012 by

Okay, so I can’t be bothered to make a fancy banner image because I am SEETHING with rage. This list went up, right, and it contains the top 50 games writers ever. These 51 people are the 50 people you should follow on Twitter to get the best games journalism. I agree with some of it, but there are certain people missing who should definitely be added, and this is making me angry. So I’ve constructed my own list of some of the best games writers excluding anyone on that other list. I haven’t added their Twitter handles though, you can find them yourself.

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You Did Not Write Your Article

Published on Mar 2nd, 2012 by

It’s easy to write something then sit back and think ‘I did well here, this article of mine is good’. But it’s a little harder to reflect on just how much of this was your own work. It’s a trap I see writers falling into all the time, and I don’t just mean newcomers to the field but seasoned pros as well. Pride comes before a fall, and never has this been more true than in the world of writing. You see, the problem is, that wonderful article you just wrote? You didn’t write it. That amazingly observant critique of the Kaiser Chiefs’ second album? Not yours. The lengthy diatribe on the state of games journalism? Nope.

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