Sunday, June 22, 2008


Today is my birthday. June 22nd. I'm 60.

A lot has happened in the last year. I published two books of poetry (Lightning and Ashes and Third Winter of War: Buchenwald), got nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for the latter, finished a novel that an agent was really interested in and then lost interest in, celebrated my wife Linda's retirement, moved to Danville, Virginia to be closer to our daughter Lillian, and got shingles.

All of those happenings were on the plus side--except for the shingles.

Really, shingles have made this birthday special.

Before the shingles, I always felt pretty good. Beside doing a lot of writing and reading and all the things I mentioned above, I was getting lots of exercise. Two or three times a day, I would run or ride my bike or lift weights or nordic track or do yoga. Like I said, I was feeling pretty good.

Then I got shingles right after the move to Danville. At first there was burning and stabbing pain, what one doctor called "lightning pain." It hit about 5-6 times an hour. Now there's just burning pain--pretty much all the time. I was taking about 3 kinds of pain killers and using lidocaine pain patches. All of that medication zonked me out--made me sleepy, dizzy, nervous, short-tempered, confused, and it didn't do much to get rid of the pain. Doing all those meds made it impossible to do much of anything. So now, I try to take no more than one pain pill or patch every day.

But slowly, it's all getting better. Very slowly.

I've started writing again, and I've started reading again, and I've started exercising again.

I figure pretty soon I'll be 59 again.

(If you want to read my 59th birthday post, just click here.)


Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday! And let's have at least another 60!

James LaPlant said...

You can take the man out of Valdosta, but you cannot take Valdosta out of the man. Gosh, hope that doesn't mean Valdosta is the shingles.

Wishing you a delighful birthday with full confidence that you will make a complete recovery...take it from a doctor you can trust.

Dr. James (the ass dean)

Stuart said...

Happy birthday! Some people groan about "oh no, not another birthday!" But I say, the more, the merrier. You want all you can get, because it beats the alternative!

Marty said...

60? No way. I hope you got what you wanted, and I hope you're up and around soon.

Susan said...

Happy Birthday John! Sorry to hear it comes with such "special" experiences. Decades from now, maybe even on your 90th birthday, you can tell great stories about how it's much better than your 60th.


Manfred said...

What, no soup! Life goes on. I've spent two weeks trying to write another Heracles verse and move my epic a step closer to completion. At the end of the epic, Heracles, the strongest man who ever lived, dies, or is translated. At the end of my epic, I'll possibly write some other things before I eventually die or am translated. I only want to know one thing: what kind of soup do they serve in the afterlife?

J.Krysiak said...

Happy Birthday John! a whirling good year it was for you/'cept for the chipped beef on toast nastiness. Glad your health is improving and hope you're settled in at the new home.

Sto lat!

Jason said...

Happy Birthday, John! Glad to hear you are writing again.

Wishing you the best,

Daiva said...

For longer than I care to admit, I thought "shingles" was a disease where one's skin just peeled off in layers, like shingles on a roof. What you have sounds less gruesome. You look happy in the picture, and young, and not in the throes of some drug-related experience. Happy 60th, and many more!

Karen J. Weyant said...

Happy Birthday! Here's hoping for another great year (minus the shingles).

Oma J said...

I feel for you Dr. G. I got the shingles on my 40th birthday. Just hang in there and HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

John Guzlowski said...

Thank you all for your birthday wishes. It made the birthday special hearing from you all.

And Oma pleasae send me a note about your shingles! Send it to my email: jzguzlowski (at)


Anonymous said...

Dear John,
may God bless You, Happy Birthday!
I hope your volume titled "The Third Winter of War: Buchenwald" will appear in a year in Hungarian as well. That would be a nice present to your next birthday. And a nice present to me, your proud translator, too.
A kind catholic priest somewhere in Hungary, when celebrating his 60th birthday, and a young monk told him, "let's have at least another 60!" - this kind priest protested, saying: "Hey, you, do not try to maximalize the divine providence!"
So, after having finished the another 60 years, please do not forget to begin... another 60 again.
Very best wishes from Budapest,
Gabor Zsille

Nancy said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY and glad to hear you're able to write again despite the pain. And that pulitzer prize should be yours.

Next year. Next book.

LivE LOnG and

Manfred said...

So John, what is going to become of the German novel?

Deborah Carman said...

Happy Birthday, Dr. G! I am looking forward to my big "40" soon! I sure hope it doesn't bring me shingles, compared to the experiences I am reading here! haha! Hope you are on the mend soon! You look great anyway! Glad you are reading and writing again! I will await the "smart" publisher who picks up your novel! Best Wishes, Debbie Carman