(or why I decided to go see live music the night before surgery)
I should be sleeping.
in less than 3 hours, one of my closest friends will be here to pick me up and drive me to the hospital for surgery. Since February 13th, I’ve been somewhat of a medical mystery.
I was looking forward to that night. I had a ticket for We Were Promised Jetpacks at Rock n Roll Hotel for their first headlining tour of the US. It was the Frightened Rabbit boys who first told me about them. I saw WWPJ a couple times and was most excited to see them when I was in Florida for the Scottish triple threat of them, Twilight Sad, & Frightened Rabbit. After months of touring since I saw them at SXSW, they really developed a cohesive live show.
Anyhow, after a week of massive amounts of snow upon DC metro area, I woke up that February Saturday morning feeling a bit odd. Really just thought I ate something bad, hadn’t slept well, went about my errands since the roads were clear, and I got my car dug out. I got back, felt worse, decided to re-assess the situation after a nap. I needed a nap anyway if I was going to go out to see We Were Promised Jetpacks that night. After 3 hours sleep, woke up to more pain. I called my sister to see if I should go to the ER.
I have a pretty strong threshold for pain. Over the years, I’ve learned I have autoimmune disease(s) and have some sort of pain daily, so I just learn to get used to it. I really wanted to make sure I wasn’t overreacting to something commonplace that I might not have dealt with in life yet, so I called my “big” sister (she’s 6 years older) to discuss. She felt that if I was feeling like it warranted a visit to the ER, I should go. So off I went, spending my Saturday night in the ER instead of seeing a rock n roll show. I was disappointed, but in a LOT of pain too. I thought it might be my appendix.
Since then, I’ve gone through a myriad of tests. I won’t bore with the details. Let’s just say, I’ve been scanned, poked, prodded, scoped, ultrasounded, and x-rayed inside, outside, upside down and all around. I’ve been to more doctors in the last 2.5 months than I really care. As it got closer to the time for me to go to Austin for SXSW, we still weren’t closer to an idea of what was causing the pain. We knew what wasn’t so far.
I decided it was FAR greater for my mental state to go to SXSW despite the pain. I knew I wouldn’t be able to run around like I usually do, seeing as many bands as I could, so I changed what it was going to be for me. I made it about music, people, and me. Music is my therapy, it’s my lifeline. I live, breathe, eat, sleep, pulse it through my veins…
It was a struggle to maintain the SXSW grind, but without having to drive a car, I could manage with pain medicine a little better throughout the day, sit when I could, drink LOTS of water, etc. Ultimately, being there and absorbing the music I love, meeting up with old friends, and making new, did my mind a world of good.
I was getting messages from doctors while in Austin: ‘latest test results show everything’s fine’ yet, pain still there, feeling like something wants to burst out of my lower right side.
Once I got back home, I moved things into full speed, I had such an amazing time with amazing people in Austin that I didn’t have time for this anymore. I pleaded with doctors in tears to please help me figure out something because I can’t deal with it anymore. I asked if they could get me back to the “regular” aches & pains, because I can deal with and tolerate that old pain. More tests, more appointments, feeling like a pinball/ping pong ball…as seemingly doctors play “tag, NOT it” with me.
and finally, we’re down to this. I’m having a “diagnostic” surgery tomorrow. It’s supposedly a routine surgery, non-invasive. a few incisions. a camera gets stuck in my belly button, and things get looked at inside. despite it being routine, I confess, I’m a little nervous and freaked out about it. mostly because I’m afraid I’ll still have no answers. mostly because I’ve been well aware of my own mortality since about age 8 or 9.
Now clearly I knew about life and death before that age. I’d attended funerals and such well before then. But it wasn’t until later that it really hit me one night lying in bed listening to the radio. I’ve had music in my life since day one, if you met the rest of my family, you’d understand.
I’ve always had trouble falling asleep, so I had this boombox radio I kept in my bed. I remember at that time I slept in the front bedroom of the house. I was listening to the radio, looking out the windows at the tall trees staring at me. The song “Time” from The Alan Parsons Project played on the radio. For the first time, I really listened to the lyrics of the song and I just started crying. I couldn’t stop. I thought to myself I could fall asleep right now and not wake up, ever.
That was pretty hardcore for me at that age. I’m not sure I ever mentioned it to my parents, but my Mom always called me an old soul. Ever since then, I’d say I’ve been painfully aware of my mortality and I’ve never been able to sleep easily. I’m not exactly sure what Eric Woolfson was specifically thinking about when he wrote the song. But it hit me a lot differently that night, more so then the pop songs I’d been listening up until that point. I love The Beatles, which was a lot of what I listened to then, but I wasn’t quite getting that sort of awareness from She Loves You.
(I imagine none of this is making any coherence by this point. I’m probably babbling. I picture my old Lit professors running a red pen through it. I can imagine the grammar mistakes I’ve made!)
In the last week or so, even with the benefit of pain medicine that up until now has given me the benefit of sweet slumber I’ve spent most nights alone staring at the ceiling. Doing what I’ve done countless times for the last 30 some years (I am about to turn 38 soon): ponder the significance of my existence.
Try as I might to remain calm, and turn to my faith, which has seen me through many many things (I know it’s not for everyone, it works for me, so thank you very much)…I’ve still been a big ball of nervous energy. And I need distractions.
music is my asylum. my escape. my heaven. my passion. my love. without music, I’d be dead.
even though I probably should have stayed home lying in bed, “resting”, I went to see Frightened Rabbit tonight. Since I first got to see them back in Austin in 2008, the raw emotion of the music has drawn me in, so I couldn’t miss it. The songs aren’t mine, but they’ve become mine in some way.
I was in a lot of pain, and I felt like a loser sitting in the corner of the back of the room most of the night, not talking to anyone. I go see live music on my own all the time, but some nights it feels odd. And it was about a song or two in where I just starting crying for no real reason other than I’m completely freaked out that I have no idea what the hell is going on with me and why I’ve had this fucking pain in my side for the last 2.5 months. I’m afraid of what we might find. eventually, someone I know showed up so I could actually open my mouth and say words to someone. When asked how I was doing, I had to hold back the tears. I’m a bit stubborn that way.
but I’m home again, watching the clock, not feeling the slightest bit tired, but I’m thankful I only have a couple hours to wait on my own, instead of a whole night.
it’s probably not a good idea that I’m listening to Crooked Fingers though. I tend to listen to fit my moods, but maybe I should choose something a little less somber…I heard Badfinger in the supermarket earlier today, maybe that will do….