So, I hurried into my bedroom-
bent down onto the floor,
On my hands and knees, reached under my bed, for a black and white box filled with my recordings. Under there — somewhere.
Once I retrieved it, I quickly sifted through some CD’s searching for a tune for a children’s book I was writing at the time.
The box had to be under my bed for at least five years-Since moving into my current apartment.
I also realized it was the first time I was able to bend down onto the floor to retrieve something — anything, without it being a mechanical chore.
With this realization, I sat back onto my legs,
Took a deep breath and began to weep.
In May of 2009, we moved into our new apartment, but within a week, my old back pain returned. With a new baby and a new move, I had other things to focus on. I simply pushed my back pain to the back of my mind. Over the course of another week, I started experiencing crushing migraines, to the point of nausea; images were pixilated and my feet started to tingle; numbness followed shortly after. First the left foot and then the right. I slowly lost my ability to walk and due to the pain in my back, I also lost the ability to hold my baby.
Although the EMS workers did their best to handle me with care,
the transition from my bed to the gurney was excruciating. I knew I’ve been down this pain road before, minus the numbness in my legs.
In the hospital, whatever pain meds they gave me initially, did not work at all. They had to administer “the good stuff”, which dulled the pain, though it still didn’t relieve it. It did allow me to lay on my back somewhat- but it wasn’t about comfort.
I was exhausted due to sleep deprivation; I hadn’t slept in weeks. As luck would have it, an inquisitive neurosurgeon about to leave work over heard my symptoms being discussed, interjected and initiated an MRI instead of a standard CAT SCAN. The MRI results revealed a tumor, which was big enough to cause my spinal cord to hemorrhage, aka “Hemorrhagic Ependymoma”.
Well, I survived the risky 9-hour surgery. The outcome was pretty grim from there.
Due to the nerve damage, I sustained from the tumor, I was now physically disabled- a paraplegic. The numbness in my legs was actually paralysis. Having to manage physical pain, which radiated through my body 24 hours, 7 days a week, was definitely a transcending experience. I was afflicted with a drop- foot, muscle atrophy, and chronic fatigue. At the time, this pain was about 2% less than the pain I was in prior to the emergency room visit. At least that’s what I told myself. I just knew I had work to do and that I was very grateful to be alive and home.
I knew the written report about my affliction would be depressing, so it served no purpose to read it. I asked myself,” What if I did not tell my body it was damaged and it had an affliction? What if I flood my body with feelings of love, compassion, and gratitude everyday while I healed- no matter how long it took- trusting that I will heal and recover the best I could”
I knew that It was all I could truly ask for.
Recognizing that my physical body pain was not going anywhere anytime soon, I had to redefine how I related to it. I redefined it as my constant companion. I was no longer fighting against it; it was not the enemy. What I needed to prevent and avoid at all cost was muscle atrophy and feelings of woe.
Meeting my pain half way meant taking less pain medication so I could do stuff with my kid and not sleep his first few years away. Not playing was not an option. I created games to play with my baby boy laying on my back; balloon ball, sock puppet and what’s in the shoe box, were a few.
As I sat on the floor and reflected on how far I have come over the past 6 years, my eyes swelled with tears. The greatest landlord in the world has passed away — almost a year now.
I am divorced, and I have the ability to sit on the floor and reach under my bed effortlessly- something I only dreamt of. How quickly the mind forgets and the body — — well it,
is designed not to remember. The process it took to get here. An unbelievable process it was.
Close to 20 years of unpolished -unfinished songwriting in my hands; deemed “unimportant” and “incomplete”, flawed and riddled with imperfections. As a culture we undervalue the process it takes to get from point A to point B. Conditioned to rush through the journey or even skip over the parts we don’t value. We only share what is finished…what’s completed.
Prior to my stumbling upon these tunes and having a moment of clarity, most of these ditties would have remained under my bed; never to see the light of day. As of today, 98% of these tunes are incomplete, undeniable scraptracks. I worked hard to get these tunes to where they are today and I am nowhere near done.
Scraptracks, Junk & Jelly Beans is a simple tool. A guide which reflects the process of becoming. A Journey if you will- beginning in your thoughts.
Best wishes in your own process of becoming,
August 24th, 2015