The past couple of months have been challenging for me health wise.
One morning in late November, I started my daily ritual of coffee intake. When a sizable amount dribbled from the side of my mouth, I thought “that’s not good.“ The entire left side of my face was immobile. I called my doctor who instructed me to seek care immediately because I might be having a stroke. The emergency room doctor initially treated me as a stroke victim. But after a battery of tests, he concluded that I had an onset of Bell’s Palsy—a rare disorder of temporary facial paralysis.
What a relief it was to hear that only half my face would be paralyzed for awhile when the alternative was a potentially life-threatening ailment!
Bell’s Palsy can be painful. It makes eating and drinking difficult. You can’t blink your eye and have to tape it shut every night. It also affects your speech, making P and B sounds especially tough to say (an aside: What cruel person named the disorder Bell’s Palsy?). Cosmetically, it gives you a droopy face and smiling is impossible. It makes your parents freak out and think you’re dying … or maybe that’s just mine, I don’t know.
One of the diagnostics for stroke the doctor ran on me at the emergency room was a CT scan. He said, “Good news, I’m confident you are not having a stroke. But … some bad news, your scan shows a sizable lesion on the front of your mandible.“
A week later, I’m sitting in an oral surgeon’s office after a painful biopsy cut. The doctor says I have an odontogenic keratocyst, a rare benign, but aggressive developmental cyst. Surgery would be required. A resection of a 5“ part of my jaw would be required.
What a relief it was to hear that half my mouth would be cut open and in pain for a couple of months when the alternative was a potentially life-threatening ailment! Then the reality hit me that the surgeon will be cutting half my jaw out and replacing it with a leg bone. The horror!
With all this going on, I personally needed a bright spot. I decided this month will be filled with inspirational stories about protagonists overcoming challenges, taking the fight to the antagonists, being strong in difficult situations. It’s also the middle of winter for the top half of the world, so a bit of fantastical escapism is in order.
In “Cold Iron Comfort“ by Hayley Stone, a young woman falls in love with one of the magical Fair Folk. Her former paramour turns into the stalker from hell. But Stone’s protagonist isn’t one to allow herself to be bullied back into a relationship.
We welcome Izzy Wasserstein to our pages with “The Crafter at the Web’s Heart.“ In this dark fantasy tale, a bibliomancer hires Danae to make a special delivery that places her in a dangerous situation.
Our reprint is courtesy of Wole Talabi. In “Necessary and Sufficient,“ we dive back into science fiction with a favorite emphasis of mine: the perils of medical technology. Well, the story is much more than that, but that’s one of many interesting themes in Talabi’s tale.
For the Brian Keene fans out there, we have a treat for you. Apex Books releases his latest, HOLE IN THE WORLD, this month, and exclusive to Apex Magazine is our 2,500 excerpt from the novel!
In “The Anatomy of a Transracial Child,“ Woody Dismukes shares his relationship with genre fiction. Born in Brazil and adopted by American parents at a young age, he has a unique perspective that I think our readers will appreciate.
Enjoy the issue. See you in March!