A New Year

Well 2010 was a heck of a year, lots of good stuff and some major challenges too. I woke up one morning in early March in the most incredible pain I’d ever experienced…it was almost religious. It felt like all the nerves in my neck, arms and shoulders were firing simultaneously. Ninety minutes later I was in the ER, and the weird thing was all the drugs they kept giving me had no effect whatsoever. Finally they put me on a morphine IV, that worked. An hour after that I left the hospital with a bottle of pills….The next morning I woke up in the same pain, but could not move my right arm. It didn’t hurt to move it, it’s just that when I tried to lift it or reach for something nothing happened; basically I was paralyzed at the shoulder (fortunately I could still move it from the elbow down).

It turned out that two cartilage discs between the vertebrae in my neck had herniated and were compressing nerves, causing pain and preventing neural impulses from passing through. About two weeks later I was scheduled for a spinal fusion. They took out the two discs and fused my c3,4,5 together. Recovery was no fun, but thanks to a great surgeon (Dennis Maiman at Froedert) and a great physical therapist (Craig at St. Francis) I have made pretty close to a full recovery. I’m playing bass and lifting heavy gear again, the show must go on!

Ironically, right at the time when I wasn’t sure if I’d ever play upright bass again I was voted Bass Player of the Year by WAMI. I could do a somewhat limited job on bass guitar by sitting down and and parking my right arm on the bass, dangling my wrist over. This is how I played a Salt Creek gig 10 days after my operation (with a lot of pharmaceutical support). I wouldn’t have minded missing it but since it was already booked I didn’t want to take a gig away from my band mates. It turned out to be a pretty good gig, and gave me a needed boost.

I kept teaching (I took one week off), and pretty much kept working: I recorded another CD for the Branches Band, Salt Creek played a great gig at Summerfest in July and several more over the summer. In the fall I recorded EPs for Micah Olsan and Uncle Larry. Recently I just started the second session of my beginning guitar class. I’ve also been playing gypsy jazz with a new trio, Djanka 3. We’ll be playing at the Art Museum during the upcoming music video contest, March 24.

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