Friday, November 17, 2017

In the Midst of Life...

"At the midpoint of life's journey, I found myself in a dark forest, for the clear path was lost"
                                                               ---Dante, Inferno (prologue)

I like to plan ahead whenever possible, and since 90 seems like a good life span, I thought, when approaching 45, that I should plan for a concert which I planned to call the "halftime show." Some wags might point out that there is no guarantee that I would have gotten that right; perhaps I would be enjoying myself too much at 90 and decide to live longer, but in such a case I had a ready answer for them, borrowed from the world of sport: "sudden death overtime."

That would have gotten a mirthful response had I gotten to opine that into a microphone at the planned but ungiven concert, but, as it happens, I was a little busy trying to fend off an early end to the festivities. Cancer struck.

It was one of the better kinds, if you are planning on getting it. Rare, but no more a friend of chemotherapy than was its host. The thing did as promised, and melted away, which was good, because when we found it it was the size of a small football in my chest, trying its best to exercise eminent domain on my heart and lungs. I couldn't take a regular breath, and my exercise regimen was going from Marathon to Couch, which is backwards.

I spent the better part of March 2016 preparing for an early grave, and then, when the diagnosis came, trying to deal with a very aggressive program of chemotherapy, designed for getting rid of large tumors in no uncertain terms, for those with lots of life ahead of them if only they can survive being poisoned for a few months.

I have spent most of my life fearing chemotherapy out of the corner of my mind. I've heard nasty things about it; I hoped that some of those miraculous advances in cancer treatment that we keep hearing about would have taken hold if and when it got to me. But alas, no.

There are many side effects which I now know from experience. Every system in your body is turned upside down. You can't sleep because you have to evacuate fluid every hour; also because some of the pills to take care of the nausea make you very restless and others very sleepy so that you are generally both at once. You can't tell if you are hungry, so you just have to guess, force it down, and if it comes back up you were wrong. Then there is pain in your bones, your chest, your muscles, and, if you are as lucky as I was, you can't stand light and have to keep your eyes tightly shut for days at a time while you lie there, unable to pass the time with a screen of some sort.

The bulk of that turmoil ended over a year ago, and I've written about it on another blog. My rehashing it here is simply to serve as notice as to why it has been so long since my last confession blog and to further explain why, for the next month or so I plan to blog only on Fridays, and then in a largely autobiographical manner, as if I have some catching up to do before deciding when to attempt to return to what this blog was originally designed to do--share piano music on Mondays, help musicians on Wednesdays, and discuss organs and church music on Fridays. It still seems a bit daunting as I write this, but I'm feeling better now, and I've been fairly productive lately, so...perhaps. One of the surprises may have been how long it has taken me to fully recover, and how many times I thought I was back on my feet only to find a couple of months later that I was more recovered than the time before which retroactively meant I wasn't in as good shape as I thought I was. This time, I thought, I'm Really recovered!

In the middle of all the muddle we moved so my wife could take up new employment in another city, which meant I had to leave my jobs and community and start over. I'm still working on it. Next time I will probably talk about Pittsburgh.

Pianonoise the website has had a rebirth as well. I will update that on Fridays also. It has a calendar of events (I have just had two concerts and two more are coming up this semester), a weekly recording, which for now involves recycling of a lot of material (31 hours) generated in Illinois, with the promise of more to come from Pittsburgh in the new year, and links to various articles, new and old, and of course, this blog.

It will be good to share life and music with you again.


I don't bite...mostly.