Sing, Sing A Song

My injury that resulted in the c5-c7 disk removal / spinal fusion over a decade ago… it stole so much from my life.ย ๐Ÿ˜ž Not the surgery itself so much, but the resulting nerve damage that made my left arm rather useless. There are still days when I’m surprised by the discovery of something else “new” that I’m no longer able to do.ย ๐Ÿ™ I should have kept a running list… but boy would that have been depressing to have everything I’ve lost, all in one handy notebook.

Well, my most recent neck “thing” seems determined to steal something from me as well. I’m still in the middle of the whole “cancer treatment” thing, with the first step having been the removal of the thyroid… and now while I’m waiting for the radioactive iodine treatment in a couple of weeks, in the mean time I can’t help but be a little bitter about a particular side effect of this surgery.ย ๐Ÿ˜ 

I dunno… for all I know, this might not be something permanent – but considering that I’m about a month and a half out from the surgery, it’s probably gonna stick. You may or may not know, but music is everythingย to me.ย ๐Ÿคจ Whether listening to it, playing it on a keyboard, crafting it via Amiga / PC tracker programs, or just singing in the car or even at karaoke back in the day. Well I’ve lost a big chunk of that passion, because I can no longer sing.ย ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ At least in no way that I used to.

At first I just couldn’t hit the notes at all. Songs that I’ve sung out loud or in my head a thousand times… I now sound like any other shlub that might try to sing it at karaoke somewhere, to the cringes of the peanut gallery.ย ๐Ÿ˜’ With a conscious effort, thankfully I’ve been able to get someย of my “pitch” ability back – but I’ve lost a huge amount of my higher range.ย ๐Ÿ˜ข I’m not sure if it’s because things got tightened up inside my neck, the same way the skin has on the outside (due to the new incision and stitches), but during those moments when I’m not hitting the higher notes – I can actually feel it pulling.ย ๐Ÿ˜ฃ It’s a difficult sensation to describe without the listener having experienced it themselves.

And yeah, I know… considering that I lost some of my range as a side effect of trying to free my body of cancer… I know that it probably sounds silly or greedy for me to be complaining about something that many people would see as frivolous, given the situation.ย ๐Ÿ™„ But seriously, when so much has already been taken from me, and singing was one of the few things that I just endlessly enjoyed, whether by myself or in front of people… it’s just another kick in the nuts that life has decided to send my way.ย ๐Ÿ˜ก “So… that one thing you’ve always loved doing? Yeah, well that’s about enough of all that.”ย Fucking awesome.

Meh… it’s not gonna stop me from singing, at least not when I’m by myself, so maybe, hopefully, things may continue healing in a way where I can get a little more of my voice back. If I would have known this was coming my way, I definitely would have recorded as many songs as I could before going under the knife. Years ago I recorded enough songs to fill 3 CDs, which I then shared with Mom and Dad and a few other people… but I never thought those would be all that I’d ever do, at least not until now.ย ๐Ÿ™

I’ve never claimed to be a great singer. I’ve never even really claimed to be a good singer. It was more that I was good enough, and I recorded the songs that I did because I just love singing, and trying to sound like I love singing.ย ๐Ÿ˜ I wanted people to be able to hear me doing something I loved, because of how it made me feel. Meh… it sounds dumb when I try to put my thoughts about it to words.ย ๐Ÿ˜• Oh, and I don’t care if anyone thinks that this is all self-pity… because it is, and I think I’ve earned it.

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Phil Collins: Not Dead Yet

Last night was concert night in Columbus, seeing Phil Collins with my friends Jim and Adam at Nationwide Arena.ย ๐Ÿ˜Š I was already nervous the day before, thinking of the handful of things that could make my day difficult, and despite doing my best to screw it up from the start – waking up at 4am and not being able to fall back to sleep – everything ended up alright and the show was great.

For anyone that’s a fan, it’s common knowledge that Phil is pretty gimped up from a failed back surgery and a “fucked foot” as he put it, so I really wasn’t sure what to expect.ย ๐Ÿ˜ณ But despite remaining seated for almost all of the performance, he seemed to get along reasonably well with a cane, so it didn’t feel as… um… I guess I was just worried that it would feel a little “Wheel the old man out and make him sing.” but that wasn’t the case at all.ย ๐ŸŽค๐Ÿ‘ดย It was a relatively long show too, playing his stuff and some Genesis songs, and he seemed to be enjoying it all. (And another “bucket list” concert checked off for me.)

Since he’s unable to play the drums, his son Nic filled in for him.ย ๐Ÿฅ๐Ÿ˜Ž The kid is pretty amazing… he’s 17 now, he was 16 when the tour started in the UK, which means he was probably learning and perfecting all of his dad’s songs by the time he was 14 years old… knowing that he’d eventually be going on a huge tour like this.ย ๐Ÿ˜ฏย (Oh, and he plays piano too ๐Ÿ™„) It was all the way back in May of 1992 that I saw Genesisย in The Shoe at OSUย (26 years ago… holy shitballs)ย but I never thought that I’d get to see him perform his own songs solo, since he swore quite a while ago that he’d never tour again.

Jim’s an awesome friend, surprising me and Adam both by getting us all tickets.ย ๐Ÿ˜ƒย (Five years ago this month we were in Kansas thanks to him as well) And like I told him, I have enough “concerns” about myself that I wouldn’t have even thought about buying a ticket for myself if he hadn’t. The neck and shoulder pain, the thyroid stuff, the random back stuff, the anxiety that comes in times and ways of its own choosing… I don’t think I would have trusted myself to be able to go – but when a friend makes not going not an option, you just put your head down and keep moving forward.

Oh, there were moments that I still wasn’t sure… even up until the point that I was standing in line, waiting to get in…ย ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜ฌ๐Ÿ‘ซ๐Ÿ‘ฌ๐Ÿ‘ซ๐Ÿ‘ญ๐Ÿ‘ซ๐Ÿ‘ซ๐Ÿ‘ฌ๐Ÿ‘ซ๐Ÿ‘ญย … but I’m absolutely glad that I went.

I’ve been a mess since getting home last night around midnight though.ย ๐Ÿ˜• The “post-concert buzz” ended up keeping me awake until about 5am, and man did I hurt.ย ๐Ÿ˜ฃ๐Ÿ˜ข It’s mostly better now, but between the cold, the sitting, the standing, the singing, the recording of video, the crowds, the traffic… as usual, my body and brain eventually weren’t having any of that nonsense, and they let me know as soon as the show ended.ย ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ I think Jim and Adam could see it in me once the lights came up, so we all sat for a bit and let the crowd clear. After we left the arena they walked along at my pace until we parted ways at the parking garage. Luckily Jim gets me though, so he knows that all of that “beat-up old man” stuff doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t do it all over again.ย ๐Ÿ™‚

What’s This?

Only got a couple hours sleep last night and then still had to wake up at 8am to get ready for my monthly appointment with Dr Walter. ๐Ÿ˜’ I don’t know how he does it, but he always seems to be in a good mood no matter what the time of day. If nothing else, he’s got a great “game face” for when it comes to dealing with patients. ๐Ÿ˜ I told him how my left arm was literally like a limp noodle the day that I came home after my surgery, but how since then I haven’t really had any pain – thanks to the temporarily increased meds.

So it was a good visit, with nothing for me to really complain about. Like I mentioned to him, I think that sometimes the amount of pain that I’m feeling in my shoulder and in my neck is relative. When that’s the only thing that I’ve got to focus on, there’s a good chance I’ll notice it more and feel genuinely worse – but when I’m barely two weeks out from a major surgery, my old injury is the last thing on my mind as long as it’s staying at that moderate level of pain where it’s usually at.

I filled him in about the next steps that I’ll be taking with all of that, and we agreed that next month would probably be better for evaluating any changes, since I’ll have had plenty of time to heal from the surgery. I had to leave there and head directly downstairs to have more blood drawn for a thyroid panel, but I still left in a surprisingly good mood.

It’s weird… I haven’t had much to feel good about in a while, and in a way I still don’t… so having those hints of “good mood” just felt weird, since it then caused me to sit here waiting for something or someone to come along and ruin it. ๐Ÿ˜ž Like Charlie Brown said, “I think I’m afraid to be happy… because whenever I get too happy, something bad always happens.”

But with that little boost of positive energy, I did go ahead and throw the Insta360 One camera out there on a tripod in the front yard, set to time-lapse mode. One frame every five seconds, and I had one lens directly facing the setting sun, with the lens on the other side obviously completely shielded from the sunlight. ๐Ÿ˜Ž I wanted to not only do a time-lapse, but to see how bad the stitching is when there’s such an exposure difference between the two lenses. In practice, it would probably be better to turn the camera 90 degrees, where both lenses would get a similar amount of bright light on them. ๐Ÿคจ

Meh… I’ve gotta recharge the camera before I can hook it up to the phone and export the video, so I’ll just drop it in here later once it’s done. In the mean time I’m gonna get a notepad and start documenting all the medical bill stuff, and try to figure out what I wanna cover at my PCP appointment tomorrow. Oy… too many doctors this week, eh? And it ain’t over yet…

Pass The Baton / Kick The Can

I didn’t do my bills last night, but I’m doing them now. ๐Ÿ˜’ They’re enough of a pain in the ass that I think I deserve an intermission, so I figured I’d jump over here and drop a few paragraphs. I knocked out the easy ones… gas, electric, internet, etc… but all of the fun medical related ones are starting to come in, and I want to pay closer attention as they nickel and dime me. ๐Ÿคจ Mostly just to make sure that they don’t nickel and dime me over the same test, scan, procedure, or person twice.

My appointment today? Well, I guess it was okay. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ He said that the pathology reports on the tissue removed during my surgery was exactly what the pre-surgery biopsy had suggested, and that it’s the most common and most treatable type of thyroid cancer. ๐Ÿ˜ Bleh… I don’t like using that word, so don’t expect to see it get used much here. ๐Ÿ˜ท So, it was a good follow-up, with the labs at least not coming back with something scarier than already thought. And I really pushed him for his true opinion. I told him not to bullshit me, and asked him if he had any “gasp” moments during the surgery.

Like I told him, before I was able to get workers comp to pay for my C5-C7 fusion surgery, I had to get an MRI done – with several doctors and medical assistant folks looking at the results, which showed some pretty severe damage. ๐Ÿง And each one that didย look at it… it gave them a “gasp” moment. ๐Ÿ˜ง

Where even a trained medical professional was like Wow. ๐Ÿ˜ณ or Damn. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ or Holy shit. ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

I explained how that helped me in thatย previousย situation, as it got everything approved and moving much more quickly… but that a “gasp” moment now isn’t something that I was hoping for, but that I still wanted him to tell me if it happened to him while he was digging around inside my neck. ๐Ÿ˜ His reply seemed genuine (as usual) when he said that nothing was any more concerning to him once he was in there than when he was anticipating how it would look and how it would go. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

He explained that there was inflammation, but no more than he was expecting. He said that nothing gave him any kind of pause, that the surgery went as well as he could have hoped for, and that I don’t need to worry so much at this point. (Easier said than done, pal… ๐Ÿ˜) I’m getting more blood drawn tomorrow, and he’s referring me to an endocrinologist in the same building that will hopefully help get my screwed up levels straightened out, as well as likely doing (or scheduling) this marker/radiation pill dealย  – which will hopefully be a one time thing followed by close monitoring. ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿป

I figure I’ll save the questions about if/when I’ll have to see an oncologist, although I’m guessingย that’sย gonna be the doctor that would be doing the marker/radiation pill deal that I just mentioned, now that I think about it. ๐Ÿค” It’s a little frustrating to be handed off from specialist to specialist, but better to have a whole bunch of different eyes on the situation than just one d00d who might not know what he’s doing, right?

So today’s follow-up… I’ll take it as a positive outcome. ๐Ÿ™‚ Didn’t really learn anything new, but learning that the labs confirmed what the initial tests suggested, and nothing worse… that’s sure better than the alternative. Also, having the whole “Don’t BS me, doc.” conversation, with the way he replied… it did actually make me feel a little more comfortable with the whole thing in my head. And so it goes…

Hurt, Heal, Push, Hurt, Heal, Push…

Yesterday evening ended up being bad. Normally you do some sort of physical activity, it’ll work up your muscles a bit, then as the day and night progresses – the pain or stiffness gradually goes away. Not last night. ๐Ÿ˜ฃ๐Ÿ˜  I left PT feeling awful and it continued to get worse all the way until I somehow fell asleep despite it. And even today, as soon as I effing woke up – neck is stiff, head and eyeballs are pounding with a headache still… heh… I really wasn’t anticipating it being this bad, considering the relatively limited movement that I allowed my bad arm and shoulder yesterday. ๐Ÿ˜’ Even being actively aware of and discussing it as I was going through exercises with the physical therapist, I still allowed myself to get this effed up. ๐Ÿคฌ

I got wrapped up in that “authority figure” syndrome thing. ๐Ÿ‘จ๐Ÿปโ€โš•๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€๐Ÿซ๐Ÿ‘ฎ๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ฉ๐Ÿปโ€โš–๏ธ Where you’re talking to a cop or doctor or teacher or whatever… and because you see them as an authority figure, you’re more likely to just do what they say, or give their words more weight than compared to a “normal” person. ๐Ÿ™„ I wanted to do the exercises that they have determined should help me, and in “trying to do my best” (like always) I really messed myself up. ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ But anyway – I’ve already decided that I’m barely going to do any of that shit during the next visit – or at home, where I’m also supposed to continue the exercises.

I’m not gonna give up on trying to get my back to heal properly and train it for a little more endurance, but I’m not gonna be able to do it the way a completely functional human would. ๐Ÿค• Tomorrow is supposed to be my last appointment with them anyway, so it’ll be up to me to make the choices about how I’m gonna keep things moving in the right direction. Heh… I can’t explain how angry this pain makes me… it’s a combination of the actual pain, the resentment regarding the original injury that has made me this fragile, feeling like “taking the initiative” to push myself to heal just results in punishment, spending every other day hurting and recovering… meh… I’m just gonna basically drop the extensive PT and do what I can, because prior to this I was actually healing and feeling pretty good.

It’s just one of those days where as soon as I woke up I was already done with this day. ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ Gonna try to make this headache go away and hopefully do something that can flip my mood. Apologies to anyone who has messaged me or sent e-mails and haven’t gotten a reply yet. I’m gonna try to get at all that before the afternoon is over. It’s hard to put on “happy, socializing face” when I’m feeling like this…

And I’m gonna find something positive to post about later too. Tired of being miserable.

Lots Of Thinking

Superstition is silly, but I still feel like I’m gonna jinx myself… but I’ve actually noticed a bit of improvement over the past 24 hours. I’ve been feeling confident enough to shuffle around the house as needed without the damn cane, but still hunched over and taking super careful steps. And even though I’m only sleeping a couple hours at a time, at least the pain hasn’t been worse when I wake up.

I’ve definitely learned that I wasn’t remotely prepared for something like this. When it is difficult to even take ten steps, having my shoes by the door, the remotes on the couch, my phone by the chair, my pills back in the bedroom, unfolded laundry in the basket, the pop out in the garage…ย it’s like I left myself an unintentional endurance course to run. Oh, and going out for groceries? Heh… yeah.

I’d be embarrassed right now if someone had to come in to this house to help me, because it’s frozen in a state where the dishes haven’t been done, the carpet hasn’t been vacuumed, clothes haven’t been put away, etc… and I feel like that person would think that this is just how I live.ย I dunno… when you’re feeling good you just take for granted that you’re going to continue feeling good and so all that shit doesn’t matter because you “know” you’ll be able to easily get to it at some point.

It definitely makes me sympathize with older folks who’ve just become less mobile over the years, who have to save their energy for key things and sometimes have to let other things go for a while, if not for good. Meh… it’s hard to explain… I guess I’m just saying that you never really understand until you’re going through it yourself, even if it is (hopefully) temporary. Hangin’ in there though…

Paying For Yesterday

I’m right in the middle of a “spell” with my lower back. ๐Ÿ™ It happens a couple times a year, and I’ve even been to the ER once (several years ago) while it was happening – and the scan or x-ray or whatever that they did, it didn’t reveal any damage or specific thing that could be causing it. (Because of course it didn’t. ๐Ÿ˜ ) So, even though I woke up today essentially unable to walk or take steps due to the unpredictable random jolts of pain – I’m still planning on waiting it out, and then theย next time that I feel this coming on I’ll make plans to go to the ER again to see if I can get some answers.

It’s hard to describe the pain and that effect that it has if you haven’t experienced something similar. Cautiously and slowly taking each step, being unable to predict what movement is going to cause a jolt of pain that would knock me over if I didn’t have a wall to grab on to. ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜ข Even just getting out of bed required five minutes of rolling, twisting, sliding, bending – all to find the one way that allowed me to sit up. And I do mean allowed. Because no matter how much pain that I was determined to accept, there’s a point where pain dictates what the body does, and when it doesn’t wanna allow you to put your weight on one leg, it’ll be happy to let you fall to the ground to avoid it. ๐Ÿ˜”

But anyway, today is the price that I’m paying for yesterday’s activities. I went up to Columbus to take Cassi to her doctor appointment, and it was actually helpful to spend so much time sitting in my comfortable car seat with the heating elements set to max. โ™จ๐Ÿ˜‹ I think that’s actually what allowed me to function as well as I was during the moments when we were out of the car. ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ I also gritted my teefs and made a bunch of phone calls to handle appointments and things that I’ve been needing to take care of. ๐Ÿ“ž๐Ÿ˜ฌ

I had $80 in free slot play, and $30 in dining credit, so after her appointment we went over to Hollywood Casino. By the time we got there we were both starving, so we opted for the buffet and absolutely poofed ourselves before we played. ๐Ÿง‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘ฑ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿ•๐Ÿ—๐Ÿฅ™๐Ÿ”๐Ÿฅฉ๐Ÿฅ“๐ŸŸ๐Ÿฅ—๐Ÿ– I let her play on my free money, and I took the same amount in cash to play along side of her. By the time we left she had won over $240, and I was ableย to (again)ย walk away with the same amount that I took, which is absolutely fine with me. ๐Ÿ˜ So that “Meh… why not?” side trip ended up being a good experience for both of us.

We then went to the huge thrift store across the way from the casino, and she picked up a handful of new black pants for use with her work uniform, along with some extra shorts and tops thanks to the unexpected winnings. ๐Ÿ’๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ I found a couple of shirts that I liked, but no jeans. ๐Ÿ˜’ I’ve finally started looking for jeans that have a waistband that’s one size up from the ones that I’ve been wearing for the past many years… not something I’m too excited about… and I’m hoping there’s still a medical explanation that can eventually be fixed so I can stick with my normal “almost fat” sized pants.

So yeah, even though I felt miserable, and feel even more miserable today, I wouldn’t have done anything differently. ๐Ÿ™‚ I like when I can do something fun with a friend and it ends up actually really helping them out at just the right time. And when I got home… I was still hurting, but no worse than I had throughout the day… so I certainly wasn’t expecting this when I woke up today. ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿคจ I’m going to be taking it super, super easy for the next couple of days though, so I can give it some time to hopefully recover a bit. ๐Ÿง˜๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿป I mean, I know I’ll get better – because I always have – but it’s still scary when your ability to walk becomes questionable at best.