'Now that I have been made painfully aware of the ticking clock, tiny voices are saying: You could be sitting at home happily writing books'
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I once heard somebody say that signing tours could kill you faster than drink, drugs and fast women; regrettably my experience in at least two of those categories is limited, but during my recent mini-tour of New York and Chicago it nearly came true. My assistant Rob accompanied me to New York ComicCon, which was frenetic to say the least, but even when you are jetlagged it's all in a day's work; we've done this many times before. There is such a thing as signing tour machismo.
It was a great event, especially meeting the actor Sean Astin and catching up after a few years. So the day passed noisily, but that was only one day down and then there was business to deal with at my US publishers before a talk at Barnes & Noble and then more publishing business and interviews and so on, after which we had a free day before heading off to Chicago. Rob suggested we go and pay our respects at Ground Zero. Unfortunately both of us had gone down with a little bit of food poisoning, or so it seemed, but it appeared to have gone away after lunch and so we got in a cab for an extremely bumpy ride.
We headed south through Manhattan, both feeling absolutely dreadful. We arrived at the foot of Freedom Tower and had enough time for one single photograph before I decided to turn back, as I was feeling so nauseous. We got back into the very same cab and began the trek back to 52nd Street. However, we were only five minutes into the journey when, according to Rob, my breathing became very laboured. I felt very cold, although sweat was pouring down my face; I couldn't focus and just seemed to be slipping away. There was nothing I could get a grip on. Rob kept asking me if I was OK and assuring me we didn't have far to go ... the little liar! We still had a good 15 minutes in that bumpy cab, and I have to take his word for what happened next; I collapsed back into the seat and, again according to Rob, was now definitely in a very bad way. But chalk one up for the boy scouts and their first aid training, because he grabbed me and cleared my airways - no task for the squeamish - while yelling at the cabbie to drive faster.
By the time we got back to our hotel I was conscious enough to decide that this was just one of those things and insisted that a lie down would do the trick. However, my young-adult editor had already called the doctor, and filled me up with Pringles and vitamin drinks while we waited; and since they were worried, I was worried too. By the time the doctor arrived I felt fine again, but he insisted on giving me a good checking over. And good job he did, because when he took my pulse he felt an irregular heartbeat and immediately packed us all off to the nearest hospital. There I was warned that I might quite possibly remain for a few weeks, as a worst-case scenario, as they couldn't possibly recommend that I fly in that state.
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SOURCE: The Guardian