You know how Queen Elizabeth talked about her annus horribilus–the awful year when her daughter Anne got a divorce and so did the Duke of York and Fergie, to say nothing of Windsor Castle nearly burning down? Well, I’ve been having a mensis horribilus.

It all started a few weeks ago when I was bitten by a bat. Yes, a BAT! I was lying harmlessly asleep in bed when I woke to find the cats going nuts. I assumed they were chasing a moth–we have tons of millers this time of year–and then realized they had a bat cornered up by the ceiling. I called Courtney, who hadn’t come to bed yet, and we chased around after it, trying to confine it so we could call Animal Control, in the process of which I realized that my ankle hurt and looked down to see two bleeding puncture wounds.

So we went to the emergency room, where I had to have the first round of rabies shots–no, they’re not in the stomach anymore, they’re in the leg, but you still have to have four rounds of five shots, one a bright purple rabies vaccination and the others very large shots of gamma globulin to pump up your immune system enough that it can (hopefully) hold off the rabies, which is pretty much always fatal.

This, of course, was right before I was supposed to go be the emcee for the Locus Awards and the next two rounds of shots were the day I was supposed to leave and the day I was supposed to fly home, so travel arrangements had to be changed and the possibility that I couldn’t go at all considered.

Luckily, we caught the bat, which tested negative for rabies, and we got the test back just in time to keep me from having to have the second round of shots–and from having nightmares about that scene in To Kill a Mockingbird where they have to shoot the rabid dog. I was able to go off to the Locus Awards and do my emceeing (which was way fun), and the only thing I have to worry about from the experience is a sudden, overwhelming desire to read the Twilight novels.

The worst part about the whole affair was finding out that bats really do attack you while you’re sleeping, just like in Dracula, which I had always assumed was a made-up thing, but no!

Well, so anyway, I dodged that bullet, only to do a face-plant at a garage sale the day before I was supposed to leave to teach at Clarion West. It was on a steeply slanting driveway with one of those curved, molded-all-in-one-piece curbs, and I didn’t so much trip as step wrong, but because the driveway was slanted, instead of hitting knee first, then hand, then head, with each impact slowing your momentum, I pretty much hit every part of my body with the same impact, or, as Courtney said, I went down like a board, and then couldn’t see anything–it was like one of those Picasso paintings where the image is all sliced into triangles, followed by double vision.

It turns out I’d fractured the floor of my eye socket, and the eye muscle was trapped in the fracture, which sounds disgusting and is, though the eye surgeon seemed unfazed by it. (He called it a blowout fracture with entanglement and said the surgery has an almost one hundred percent chance of success.) I’m having it operated on on Wednesday, after which point I’ll hopefully be able to read–and write–again instead of just watching one-eyed television (you have no idea how many truly awful movies are on the Turner Classics channel) and not lifting, not bending over, and not blowing my nose, all of which are forbidden activities.

Lots of people have inquired about how I’m doing, so I thought I’d better try to let everybody know just what was going on. And yes, I am wearing an eye patch (this in response to a question from Bob Silverberg.) And no, it isn’t just like Johnny Depp’s. And, yes, I am aware that Queen Elizabeth was wrong about that being her annus horribilus and that things got way worse for her just a short time later.

Connie Willis

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