9 Weeks After

Well, the bottom sort of fell out of my life there for a while  -  diagnosed with atrial fibrillation back in January, two "severely leaking valves" in March and scheduled for open-heart surgery in early April, with a "6-8 week" recovery period before I could "resume regular activity." The period between my first diagnosis and surgery on April 12th found me more and more drained and depleted, to the point that it was exhausting walking from the car to the house.

The annual Ithaca Festival (first weekend in June) seemed the logical target date for my return to action. It was 7 weeks after surgery (halfway between the "6-8 weeks" I'd been promised) and most of the town would be on hand to see if I'd actually made it. The logical group for my coming out party was Transistor Radio London (the smaller version of the full band), and we managed to get a nice time slot (5-6 p.m. on Saturday in the park).

Unfortunately....a side effect of heart surgery is severely depleted breathing capacity, especially when it comes to singing. My heart sank the first time I tried to sing for the first time (after I was able to actually hold a guitar). I couldn't reach desired notes and I couldn't get through an entire line. It was scary.

My self-prescribed therapy was to sing one song per day all the way through (starting with something manageably short like "Twinkle, Twinkle"), and to build from there. The break-through was when I asked Lynne to sing one with me (we went with The Roseville Fair) and I was able to sing the harmony part. I had goosebumps.

The short version is that I met with the guys three times before the Festival. Each time I was stronger and more solid. The Festival weather was beautiful, hundreds of people turned out, and we played a terrific set.

I think it's safe to say that I'm back for good. Lots of shows are lined up over the next many weeks (check the calendar page) and I feel SO much better than I did before surgery.

Hooray for modern medicine. Hooray for loving family and friends. And hooray for music! I couldn't have done it without any of them.

Thanks for your patience....


Photo from The Ithaca Festival 2013 (thanks to Eric Humerez)