Friday Reads: Crossroads in the Dark III

Cover of Crossroads in the Dark 3Welcome back for another Friday Reads. This edition will be rather different as I can’t truly say, just yet, if Crossroads in the Dark III will have a lasting impact on me. However, what I can say, is that this book already has significant meaning.

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS)

This particular volume of the Crossroads in the Dark (CRITD) anthology series produced by my publisher, Burning Willow Press, is for charity, with 26 authors donating stories (see the list below). The book has been dedicated to Tracey (T.F.) Poist, who suffers from EDS (if you, like many others, don’t know what that is, check out the Ehlers-Danlos Society website), with all proceeds being donated to EDS research in the hopes that better treatments, and hopefully a cure, can be found.

I reached out to Tracey about her experience with EDS, and she had the following to say:

It began with fatigue. I was going to be married soon, so I chalked it up to stress. Then I thought I must’ve contracted mononucleosis. I had tests done for Lyme disease. By every account, I was perfectly fine.

Then I twisted a bit as I yawned and stretched. Instant agony. After a few months of dealing with medical bureaucracy, I had an MRI performed. It showed four herniated discs and two others shredded. Spinal stenosis. Arthritis. All without any cause.

Ordinarily, that’s where this story would end. I’d complain about more and more, but nothing would ever come of it. That’s how it remains for most of the undiagnosed zebras out there. But I got lucky. My doctor had a personal interest in genetics and sent me for genetic testing. Bingo! Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Classical Type, with Marfanoid Features.

Doctors in medical school are taught to look for the most obvious causes first. To hear hoofbeats and think of horses, not zebras. But we medical zebras exist. And we need help.

Ehlers Danlos affects every part of my life. My skin stretches and tears. My heart can’t quite keep up with what I’d like to do. My muscles can’t, either. My autonomic nervous system is heavily impacted. In fact, I live in a daily state of fight-or-flight. It exhausts me physically and mentally.

There are several co-morbidities frequently found with Ehlers Danlos. I live with nearly a dozen. And I’m lucky. It can get so much worse. I lose a zebra friend to sudden death every month. Aortic dissection. Aneurysm. Suicide.

Other than the weight I’ve gained and the stretch marks under my clothes, I don’t look any different than I did ten years ago. I don’t look like a person who has to use her wheelchair, who depends on medications to fight Dysautonomia and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia. I don’t look like I have problems digesting food. You can’t see my insomnia or my constant fatigue.

EDS is an almost entirely invisible illness. It is an umbrella under which you may find joint dislocations, heart problems, digestive issues, depression and anxiety, easy bruising and scarring, and so much more.

Before I woke up and yawned and stretched, I took things for granted. Running. Dancing. Dressing myself. Showering. Walking. Living without pain.

Ehlers Danlos is underdiagnosed and misunderstood. I encourage you to learn about the illness so you don’t take life for granted the way I did, but especially so you might be able to connect the dots for someone currently suffering without answers.

There is no cure, and we can only treat separate issues as they arise, but we are resilient. Warriors. And we thank you for your help. May we find a cure for our children.

CRITD III

If you like horror, even a little bit, go buy yourself a copy of it. It’s well worth the money. I don’t even really like horror, and I give it 5 stars (no, really, you can read my review). It’s horrible in all the right ways, and wonderfully demented. Check out all of the fantastic authors who donated their stories to the anthology.

Stories

Are you a horror fan? Have you read any of the CRITD books? Will you buy CRITD III? Have you ever heard of EDS? Leave me a comment below. Or leave a message for Tracey to help make her day a bit better.

I hope you have a great weekend at the Crossroads.

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Ampersand -or- And Per Se And

I’ve got a fun little nugget of information for you today, a combination of #WednesdayWisdom and #WritingWednesday. If you’ve ever been curious about the ampersand (&), keep reading. 🙂

various versions of the ampersandThe symbol existed long before the name. It was a ligature of the Latin word “et”, meaning “and”. This is where the Et looking ampersands come from. It’s also why you’ll sometimes see etc. written as &c.

The name come from the 19th century when “&” was often included as the 27th letter of the alphabet. When children recited the alphabet, it was awkward to finish with “X, Y, Z, and”.

So the ending of the alphabet recitation was changed to ‘X, Y, Z, and per se and”, meaning “and, by itself, and” or that the “&” was a word on its own.

Over time, “and per se and” was slurred together to form the mondegreen “ampersand”.

It’s uncertain precisely when or why the ampersand was dropped from the alphabet, but it may very likely have been related to the modern alphabet song. You know, the one set to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” It was copyrighted in 1835, and, as we all know, omitted the ampersand from the recitation. It was around this time that including the ampersand in the alphabet fell out of favor.

Bonus!

While I was researching the ampersand, I came across some interesting information about “ye olde”. In middle English, there existed a “letter” known as thorn. It looked kind of like a “p”. But over the years, it evolved to become almost indistinguishable from “y”. This meant that “ye” was written as an abbreviation of “the”. It stuck, and so, to this day, we have “ye olde” instead of “the olde”. English has simply forgotten that you’re supposed to pronounce the “ye” as “the”. But that isn’t as much fun, is it?

Are you a fan of the ampersand, or do you despise it? Leave a comment below with your thoughts.

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#Octothorpe

Hashtag vs OctothorpeEveryone knows “hashtag”. It’s a fairly young word, but it has completely saturated the world. According to Merriam-Webster, it’s first known use was in 2007 — it’s probably safe to assume it was on Twitter. Merriam-Webster declared it the word of the day on 6/23/2014, the same year it was added to the dictionary. But what came before hashtag?

The little symbol “#” that precedes our hashtags today has been known as a hash, square, pound sign, number sign, tic-tac-toe sign, noughts and crosses sign, and — my personal favorite — octothorpe.

Octothorpe’s history, however, isn’t as definitive as it’s cousin, “hashtag”. By most accounts, workers at the Bell Telephone Laboratories invented the word sometime in the late 1960’s or early 1970’s.

There is nearly universal agreement that the first half of the word refers to the eight lines projecting from the center square. The “-thorpe” however, remains a mystery, with far too many stories behind it to pinpoint the real one. Some of the most interesting include:

  • A Bell Telephone Laboratories employee who burped while talking about the symbol.
  • It’s a derivative of the Old English word for village (thorp) because the symbol looks like a village square surrounded by 8 fields.
  • Don Macpherson, a Bell Labs engineer, added -thorpe to “octo” because he was part of a group trying to get the olympic medals of athlete Jim Thorpe returned from Sweden.

Whatever its origin — and I’m rooting for the village square because it’s whimsical — octothorpe’s first appearance in print is in a 1970’s US patent filing, spelled “octothorp”. Other variations of the word include octothorn, octalthorp and octatherp.

I think we should use octothorpe more often. It’s just so fun to say. Oc-to-thorpe. In my opinion, it rolls off the tongue quite nicely (although perhaps not as quickly as “hashtag”).

What do you think? Should we become linguistics necromancers and bring back octothorpe, or let it die away completely? Leave a comment with your thoughts.

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