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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Dealing with a Medical Emergency

Larry here, editor of the Acoustic Americana Music Guide.

The “August Finale” edition is posted, so you’ll be able to find events through Monday. And I’ll attempt, this weekend, to get a fresh edition posted for early September.

I’ll be out of circulation for some period of time. I was at the hospital yesterday afternoon through last night until 2 minutes before midnight. They conducted a full eye exam and, as I suspected, I have a detached retina in the left eye, resulting from a horseshoe-shaped tear (tear like torn, not like a teardrop).

In a few hours, I went from a compromised field of vision to only a blurry tiny slit at the very top. My musician associate, Allan Comeau, is a doc in real life, and immediately, he coached me what to do.

Considering I am one of the 40+ million Americans with no medical insurance, I am especially grateful for the care I am receiving. Once I was past the medical establishment bureaucracy, they called-in the retinal surgery team and were going to do the surgery last night, as an emergency, until the team was diverted down to Harbor General for a case of someone who had an object sticking out of his eye. I already had the i.v. rig in place, the ekg sensors on, and the thing on my finger (whatever that thing is). It felt like NASA scrubbing a Shuttle launch after the crew is aboard.

Still, having spent several hours in the emergency room, seeing a foot and lower leg that had been run-over by a truck and were larger than the person’s thigh; a shattered leg that arrived splinted with a cardboard box and torn bedsheets; people in shock; one badly-injured patient physically attack and scream vile words at a nurse; lots of people with nausea; and choruses of heart-wrenching moaning, I saw why priorities are what they are for the folks who work to relieve suffering and fix broken bodies and hearts and souls. The need is enormous, and the sick and broken just keep coming.

So my surgery is Monday morning at 7:30 am. Right now, my left eye is essentially blind. They say they should be able to restore some amount of vision to it, but once the retinal detachment goes past the centerline of vision, the prognosis isn't good, statistically.

’Course, I’ve been defying statistical expectations my whole life.

This is real surgery. It's beyond anything they can fix with a laser. I'll end-up with a belt permanently placed around the outside of my eye, in addition to what they do inside the eye. Everyone, including me, wanted to just do it last night. Waiting isn't good, but it seems it's necessary because of the weekend. And another statistic is that once it crosses the horizontal centerline, it's already about as bad as it can get, short of total detachment (which cannot be fixed). Anyway, that statistic is supposed to make it acceptable to wait until Monday.

Those inclined to commune with Divine Spirit, a word or two is appreciated.

After the surgery, I'll have both eyes bandaged. They must wrap the right eye, too – or else I'll move it, looking around – and that would move the left eye, which must not move until they think it's safe. So, I'll take time today to reconfigure spaces and get things out of the way so I can't fall over anything during my groping period. And I’ll try to fix it so I can make a jelly sandwich instead of a mayonnaise sandwich, by feel, and not mistake the sunscreen for the toothpaste, or the mouthwash for the Pine Sol.

Today, I’ll stack a bunch of CDs next to the player (and later I’ll be trying to guess who is who, in the case of new ones I haven’t heard yet!)

I don't know if they'll specifically prohibit computer use once the right eye is unbandaged. I didn't think to ask about that.

In any event, I won't be able to read emails from anyone after Sunday, at least for a while. So, yes, I’ll try to get a new edition of the music Guide posted while I still can.

I guess it's true that things rarely happen one at a time, when you can handle 'em easily. Seems they tend to wait and arrive in multiples, like a dump truck backing up, and not always with that hoot-hoot-hoot warning horn. I just learned, before dealing with this thing with my eye, that one of my major clients from the late spring and early summer intends to stiff me for all the money they owe me, despite our signed contract and my completion of their work and a bunch of mileage they owe me (they claim to be broke). Ouch. Even if I take 'em to court, how many months will THAT take? With other circumstances, I'd just work harder to make a few bucks to get around what they're pulling, but given this thing with the eyes, this might be challenging for a while.

Tonight, my last fandango before surgery, et al, will be the sold-out launch of the national tour of the “Billy Bragg Beethoven’s 9th" concert tour, with a cast that includes musical pals Susie Glaze (winner of the Just Plain Folks “Roots Album of the Year” in ’07, with 70,000 people voting worldwide) and Ernest Troost (winner of this year’s Kerrville Folk Fest “New Folk” Award). After that, I'll see you when I see you (literally), and hopefully that’ll be sooner rather than later!


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