Welcome to the Sound and Light Show

Sort of a diary for myself ... but you can read it too.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Dinner with Spanky Wilson

Update: I now have reservations for four on April 18th for the Spanky Wilson Dinner Show. 'Clover' and 'Uncle Cracker' are going to join me and whoever I decide to take.

Spanky is doing two shows, 7pm and 9pm. We're having dinner at 8pm and then we'll stick around for the 2nd performance while enjoying some adult beverages.

Sounds like a solid evening to me.

My head is going to explode ...

I skipped going out last night to see Del La Soul in concert over at Margarita Mama's (actually not bad place for a show - just a bad place any other time). I've actually seen them three times before and have met Plug One, Plug Two and Mace on two different occasions so I wasn't in a hurry to go.

I stayed in though because I'm knee deep in trying to hook up, figure out and learn how to run the new M-Audio Axiom 61 Midi Controller and M-Audio Fast Track Pro USB Interface I recently purchased.

I was on the phone for close to an hour with customer support last night (read: my friend 'DJ Society' down in Atlanta*)

Anyway, I've been producing music via Reason 3.0 on my laptop and through some local studios for a few years now. It's about time I got some better equipment at my house. At the very least it's been fun to have a playable keyboard in the house again, I miss just playing the piano ... and with the laptop I can call up 1,000s of sounds; anything from a Grand Piano, a Wurlitzer or Hammond Organ to some Strings, Woodwinds or crazy synths.

*'Buddy': I'm sorry I called your dad right in the middle of story time.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Promoting and stuff.

Everything is coming together for the last of my parties I'm throwing
before I go under the knife.
Everything is ready for my fundraiser next week:

But first I got this:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dinner with Spanky Wilson

Today, I made reservations for dinner at the Terrace Room in the Omni William Penn Hotel in downtown Pittsburgh. Reservations for two. A four course meal will be served and Spanky Wilson will be the dinner entertainment.

THE Spanky Wilson?

Spanky Wilson is a world renowned Funk and Soul vocalist. She was born in Philly and actually lived in Pittsburgh for awhile. She's toured everywhere and has recorded with everyone. Marvin Gaye, Sammy Davis Jr., Lalo Schifrin and most recently the Quantic Soul Orchestra.

Here she is performing with the QS Orchestra:

I don't know who she will be performing with at the hotel. In fact, I have no idea what to expect at this 'dinner show'. I've never been to something like this. There are no tickets. All you have to do is make reservations, pay the $27.50 per plate and get entertained by Spanky Wilson. Do I dress up? If it were up to me, I'd rather do away with the whole meal thing but I guess I'll do whatever it takes to see Ms. Wilson.

And just for kicks ... Here is her doing her version of Cream's 'Sunshine of you Love' that she recorded back in 1970. This has always been my favorite cover of this song.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Them Bones Pt. 4

I talked with my surgeon last night and then spoke with the surgeons assistant today.

I picked Wednesday, May 14th as my surgery date.

Them Meds Pt. 2

So this Neurontin medication I'm taking until surgery has me feeling pretty good; taking away most of the pain I was feeling from the two herniated discs. However, it also has me feeling pretty loopy from time to time ... and not in a good way. The feelings come and go. One minute I can be fine, fully aware, awake ... the next minute I'll forget how to spell my name and have trouble forming complete sentences. It's really weird.

Today I locked myself out of my office. Locked my car keys, house keys and office keys all in the office that I rent out for my company. In the 8 years I've been a tenant in this building, I have never locked myself out of my office. (I'm starting to realize I get so absent minded when this drug kicks in.) I had to go get the building manager to help me out and while we were talking in the elevator on the way back to my office, he even asked me if I was alright. He probably thought I was drunk or stoned. I explained briefly my situation and said I was on medication that makes me a little loppy and has me 'doing stuff that I never do before like locking myself out of my office.' (I actually said 'that I never do before'.) I tried to correct myself but the building manager just looked at me in silence.

And the other day I found a melted ice cream sandwich laying out on my kitchen counter (with one bite taken out of it). After seeing it, I smacked my lips and I was like, 'you know, I do taste chocolate ... hhmm ... wonder when I did that?'

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Them Meds pt. 1

I forgot! The docs also got me on new medication. I'm taking Neurontin to help dull the nerve pain produce by the crimped nerves in my neck. Basically, I endure piercing pain underneath my shoulder blade, down the outside of my left arm (tricep) and into my elbow all day, every time I move my neck.

Here is an excerpt from the definition of Neurontin:
Neurontin affects chemicals and nerves in the body that are involved in the cause of seizures and some types of pain. The exact way that it works is unknown.

Ha ha, that's comforting.
"Just take it! we don't know why it does what it does. JUST TAKE IT!"

I take the pill twice a day and the docs said that it may take a week before it takes affect. Already I am feeling very loopy and tired from the drug. This is okay for right now, I had the best night of sleep last night that I've had in a long while, but I will need to drive my car again soon ... and drink alcohol again someday ... which neither are recommended while on this drug.

The docs also gave me Flexeril for when I am hurting really bad. The Vicodins were not doing it for me, they would only dull the pain for an hour and then make me very jittery, keeping me from falling asleep at night. They say Flexeril will knock me out.

That's what I want to hear.

Them Bones pt. 3 (It just keeps getting better)

I saw the spinal surgeon yesterday (Friday). After having 4 more xrays done of my neck and after reviewing my Spinal MRI, the surgeon believes that surgery is my only option. They want to do an Anterior Cervical Spinal Fusion to alleviate the spinal cord compression and nerve damage I am experiencing. Basically, they will make an incision in the front of my neck, go in and take out the two herniated discs and then fuse the 3 Cervical Bones (c5-c6-c7) together using my own bone grafted from my pelvis. A metal brace will be implemented to keep the bone fusion in place and protected.

We're looking at a 2 1/2 hour surgery, 1/2 hour to fall asleep, 1/2 hour to wake up, close to 4 hours in OR and 2 hours in recovery, 3 days in the hospital, 3 weeks wearing a hard shell neck brace, 5 more weeks wearing a soft shell neck brace and about 3 months until full recovery.

Basically this is the same surgery I had back in 1989 for Scoliosis, fusing 4 Lumbar Bones together, with addition of metal rods, except that that surgery was 12 hours long and I didn't wake up for two days after it and the recovery time was 3 months on my back.

This time around they told me I will be on my feet the same day. I'll also have a private room and will be up and around (not bed ridden) for my entire stay in the hospital. They said bring slippers and 'casual' wear. ha ha

yay! ... more metal in me. I'm not entirely pleased with this diagnosis but I realize that I was born with a bad back and that this may be the only option right now (the best option, anyway). My left hand falling asleep every ten minutes is not a good sign. The doctors say my spinal cord is very healthy but if it keeps getting compressed (the reason my hand keeps falling asleep) I can do permanent damage eventually. If I get the surgery right now, there is a great chance that the damaged nerves will heal themselves.

I was told that there is an 80% to 90% chance that this surgery will alleviate all of my pain. A good chance that 10% of the pain will remain. I can live with that (hopefully). Of course there are risks dealing with spinal surgery, nothing I didn't already go through with my last surgery; the chance of damaging the spinal cord (1 in 1000), infection, etc. The only new things dealing with the cervical section rather than the lumbar section is possible damage to vocal cords and esophagus.

The doctors wanted to operate as soon as March 31st, a little over two weeks from now. I have to call them back next week with my decision. I know I am getting the surgery done, I just don't know if the 31st will be the date. I have to consider the recovery time and all; having to miss work, other responsibilities in my life, who will be able to be around to help me during recovery (help around the house, not being able to drive, etc).

We'll see ... i have some thinking to do and decisions to make.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

35th birthday, came and went

A friend out in LA called the other night to remind me, 'Hey! You're halfway to 70!'
Thanks for the warm wishes.

Tuesday night I celebrated turning 35 with a standing room only crowd at Kelly's Bar and Lounge for Funk and Soul night in East Liberty. It was also my friend J Malls' birthday too so we destroyed ourselves. Actually, I only drank 1 1/2 beers but lost count of all of the shots I was buying for everyone (and had bought for me). Jameson and Red Bull/Tequila. As a surprise birthday present, Kelly's (specifically Meg F.) threw away my tab at the end of the night. Completely awesome and beyond generous.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Yeah, it's my birthday today ...

and tossed into my inbox with all of the other birthday e-mail wishes from family and friends was this little note from TicketMaster:

Van Halen - Pittsburgh - 03/21/08 - POSTPONED UNTIL A LATER DATE

Thanks Eddie ... and thank you Ticketmaster ... not only did you rape me with convenience charges and processing fees for the tickets, you also now ruined my birthday.

Monday, March 10, 2008

EMG Test

Today I had my first ever EMG Nerve Conductive Test. The doctors tested my left shoulder, arm and hand to see if I am experiencing any nerve damage. The test was actually kind of fun. They first wire your fingers up with electrodes and then they take this metal wand that they stick into parts of your hand and arm which sends small jolts into you that make your muscles jump involuntarily. Cool. They also stick a small electrode needle into various muscles to record nerve patterns. This wasn't as cool. I'll get the results back when I see my Spinal Surgeon on Friday.

Off to a good start

The show I was promoting last friday was cancelled because the band couldn't make it to Pittsburgh due to bad weather and poor driving conditions. Oh well. I still went out and had a blast. My friends 'Clover', 'Uncle Cracker' and 'the Jones' took my out for a birthday dinner at a local Thai Restaurant that night. After that we just bar hopped until we couldn't drink anymore. I then spent all of Saturday recovering. Fun times.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Ron Mueck

Last Friday I checked out the work of hyperrealist sculptor Ron Mueck over at the Andy Warhol Museum. It was both fascinating and creepy.

Here are pics of some of his works that are exhibited here in pgh.

Side Note: I still think it's awesome that the Warhol has Happy Hour on Fridays so you can indulge in an adult beverage during your visit to the museum.

Still running with the Devil

Okay internets ... settle down. Stop the rumors.

According to the Van Halen website, only a few recent tour dates have been postponed while Eddie VH is undergoing 'a battery of comprehensive medical tests to determine a defined diagnosis and recommended medical procedures.'

Still, not exactly the iron-clad reassurance that I was looking for.
Hopefully they can make it until March 21st when I'm supposed to see them.

Monday, March 3, 2008

in other news ...

... somewhere out in Beaver County there is in fact a 40 year old woman named Jamie who is actually crying.

Report: Rest of Van Halen tour scrapped

I should have kept my mouth shut last year.

Them Bones Part 2

Just so we're all on the same page ...

I first went to the doctor's office over two weeks ago because of some shoulder, neck and arm pain I was experiencing. My Primary Care Physician prescribed me to get an MRI of my shoulder and also referred me to see a Sports Medicine Therapist/Doctor.

The Sports Med. Doctor, while looking at the shoulder MRI, found an incidental bone lesion that worried her and immediately referred me to see a Bone/Tumor Specialist. In the meantime, she also prescribed me to get an MRI of my spine to continue to look into the cause of my pain.

So now the Bone Specialist, while looking into my bone lesion, also took a look at my spine MRI and pointed out to me that I have two herniated discs in my neck that worried him and immediately referred me to a Spinal Surgeon who I am now scheduled to see in two weeks.

Got that?

All of my doctor's visits have been through the same hospital so the sharing of my files/xrays/MRIs has been at every doctor's fingertips. This is a definitely a convenience but it has also resulted in each doctor finding something that 'worried' them that they were not directly looking for in the first place.

It's like the Sports Med Doc said, "I know you came in for this but hey, we found this" and the The Lesion Doc said, "I know you came to see me for this but hey, look at this." At this rate, I'm afraid the Spinal Surgeon is going to take one look at the herniated discs in my neck and then tell me something like my hip needs replaced or that I have diabetes ... or something else irrelevant to the situation. I mean, c'mon, what's next!?

Anyway, to recap, the image of the shoulder MRI, in which the Bone Lesion was found in the first place, doesn't show the entire lesion in my arm. The Bone Specialist needs me to get another MRI of my arm so he can get a better diagnosis of this lesion but he feels that this can wait until the herniated discs are taken care of. (the exact opposite of what my Sports Medicine doctor thought). He also believes that the lesion is just a cyst that has formed inside my arm bone where the bone marrow should be. Probably a result of a bruise that occurred when I hurt my shoulder/arm during the prolonged landscaping of my backyard last summer. The lesion is not showing up on regular xrays and it is not effecting the bone itself so he feels that there is no urgency with this. I also don't have any pain associated with the part of my arm where the bone lesion has occurred. Incidentally, he's also pretty confident that the pressure of the herniated discs on my spinal cord is causing most of my shoulder and arm pain and also why my left hand sometimes falls asleep (but we'll let the Spinal Doctor figure that out).

So we are now looking at the following in this order (I think ...):

Nerve Conductive Test on my left arm next week.
Spinal Surgeon visit the week after. (May result in therapy, injections or spinal surgery ... oooh! doctor's choice!)
MRI of my arm for the Bone Specialist follow up visit.
Then maybe we'll get back to that Sports Med Doc's follow up visit for the shoulder cartilage tear ...