Countdown

257 days until the Man burns....

2017 is drawing to a close! My near annual post about me.

I do the absolute WORST job of updating my personal website... which is funny considering how egotistical hosting a site about myself is. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, comes here for the right reasons - it's largely just another attack surface where I share some personal data about myself.

I guess the primary difference between this and social media is I maintain more "control" here... you can't censor me here, but would have to lean on external services such as Google, DNS, etc. I like having some control.
At the same time, the social nets have an army of employees to keep things working. Meh.

I'm posting because 2017, for a lot of people sucked. It sucked hard enough for me too I suppose, but coming through the other side of it has strengthened parts of me I'd forgotten existed. It all began in December of 2016. I was filling out paperwork with the Veterans Administration, and needed my entrance/exit dates from the VA Hospital in Los Angeles from the year before. I fetched my records on line, and discovered a discharge note related to a very small lump in my left testicle we had found the previous summer on a cursory examination. Upon leaving Los Angeles for Kansas City, I ditched the "Obama Phone" (laughable, Bush signed that legislation folks) and turned up my StraightTalk in the 913 area code. They had attempted to reach me, to offer a radical orchiectomy and prosthesis if I wished. I was sorta stunned... so I printed off everything I had, visited my primary care physician at the VA. He wanted an ultrasound. We had done two in El Lay, 3 months apart, to chart any growth over time. The machine was booked solid at the KC VA so they sent me to Research Medical Center on the "Veterans Choice" program. I get a very thorough exam, the technician shares what she's legally allowed to without a diagnosis. A doctor comes in, examines it briefly, blows it off as not a big deal.

It's a Really Big Deal(tm) when a flank incision starts at sternum, and circles your navel to continue South...

I return to the VA two days later... results from Research aren't available yet. Urologist I'm seeing is peeved, she can see I was sent to Research to pad someone's wallet, not actually offer care. She takes me to the front of the line for an ultrasound NOW, because she, "wants to see what the Hell is in there, right away." We get yet another, and in a room full of surgeons all agree this is LIKELY a trauma based tumor from getting kicked in the junk a few years back, but the "best course of action" is to separate it from my body, know what it is, be sure. So in January of 2017 we did an outpatient procedure to remove it, and perform a vasectomy on my remaining testicle considering as pushing 50, I'm not interested in fathering more children. It was straight forward, came home that day, lot of meds, bag of frozen peas for my half sack... and I have to toot the VA horn here: these doctors know incisions! In my lower left groin, within a couple of days the pristine incision looked like it had been healing for MONTHS.

Fast forward about 12 days, phone rings. Your testicle went to pathology, came back it's a Teratoma. It's what happens when a germ cell, which grows up to become sperm later, mutates or goes off the reservation. They can grow hair and teeth, and present very much like an ectopic pregnancy that has to be removed. We schedule a CT scan, which detects things they're concerned about, a mass in my retroperitoneum, the space behind my kidneys, liver, etc. We follow up with a PET scan, and clearly define the tumor that's roughly 9cm by 9cm (3 inch mass), and a "sprinkling" of activity in the lymph nodes of my upper left thigh region. This type of cancer, if it metastasizes, tends to follow a specific trail up the center of the chest towards the heart, and they wanna ward off ANY chance.

In my own research I determine platinum based chemotherapy rarely has success or efficacy in teratoma cases, so I decline the recommended two courses. The primary side effect that I'm concerned with, as a musician, is hearing loss and my quality of life. My medical team agrees with me, and we schedule an April surgery with University of Kansas Hospital. That's a whole 'nother story in itself... very much TL;DR territory, and I don't feel like trying to wrap my head around it all at the moment. I come out of surgery, essentially moving into my girl friend's home in Topeka for the next two weeks to avoid the stairs in my apartment, and go through all sorts of agony both related to incisions, post operative bowel issues, opiates doing the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde bit (I can't believe my girlfriend was so rock solid by my side, when I'm sure I was just plain nasty to be around. I don't speak out of obligation, but I owe her a LOT) as well as constipation, nausea, and a bout strong enough to tear open one of my stitches while retching. Top it all off, I get a "Saturday Night Palsy" from the seven straight days in the hospital bed at KU, which impinges my ulnar nerve in my left arm, rendering my ring and pinky finger extremely weak and uselessly numb for nearly a month. Once the strength returns, I can play guitar, but random numbness is likely to be a lifetime issue.

So yeah... there's a whole lot of "Bad Shit(tm)" I'm bemoaning from 2017... but this is really a post about perseverance, improvisation, overcoming obstacles, adapting to life on life's terms, and continuing the battle that is drawing every breath.

I'm cancer free, and based on my most recent CT scan and blood work, in 100% remission with no reason to expect a return. (Teratoma is the "lottery winning" cancer in that regard, rare that it returns once dealt with.)


So, fast forward to August of 2017, we (my lady friend, her dog Bug, and I) move to the Northland of Kansas City, which I've formerly eschewed because it's "way up there in BFE". We're in the Nashua neighborhood just a few blocks off of 169 Highway at Shoal Creek Parkway and North Oak. It's lovely, quiet, large fenced back yard for our beloved fur baby... nice neighbors. The two car garage and unfinished basement sealed the deal for us. As highlighted in my much more regularly updated musician website over at http://maslowsbasement.com/news/november-fading

Bug Dog approves of the back yard too

I'm building a recording studio in half of the basement. It's built around a brand new 27" iMac with 8 CPU cores, a TON of RAM, 4 terabytes of network storage, Google Fiber, Focusrite Scarlett 18i20, Presonus Faderport mixing console, bitchin' new Rockville monitors... I've invested some serious cash in myself here, and it's a weird word to use... invest tends in normal parlance to suggest a desire to be "paid back" or recompensed in some way. It's not so much about the money for me, it's about the tools and ability to fully express myself. While relatively adept at written word, where I "feel" I connect with what I want to share is in music, even if I'm not the most talented person on the planet. It's that truth, that access to the raw, gritty, reality of life and stories or sounds about that, that I find I'm most excited... most influenced, most fulfilled, whatever. It may be me making music nobody ever even hears. It's first and foremost, art for MY ears. If it can't pass my muster, if it doesn't please me, why would I expect it to be worthy of my time or release to the Internet? Yeah, weird headspace of course, but again it's about going UP out of the basement, from those lower "layers" of needs like food, shelter, etc into the heady, "here's my spiritual composition and how I intend to deal with it" world.

Incidentally, the inaugural "noises" I made on the new rig last night, hastily though they may have been, are available here:
http://www.icompositions.com/music/song.php?sid=223563
I owe the "clean" sound to the new insulation, among other things...

New Insulation

Control Desk Coming Together Slowly

And I would be remiss were i not to show off and let everyone know how very thankful and thrilled I am to have an original work of art from Karol Good to hang when the studio is closer to completed. It's titled "Six String Melody" and I think it's absolutely PERFECT!