Monday, July 02, 2012

Gone, Baby, Gone

No posting recently. My pinched nerve is still a problem, and we finally have insurance through my wife's work so that I can start pursuing treatment. Right now, my left shoulder feels like it's been tased just sitting here at the computer.

I've been playing a few games, but this year has been a trying one for me. My mother is, probably, dying from a urinary tract infection that her Physician's Orders say we can't treat (and frankly, that's for the best). She's been on hospice care for nearly three months, and I honestly thought she'd have gone by now. I'm sure that sounds crass to many, but she's got dementia that makes her extremely anxious and this is no way to end your life.

Perhaps the most influential person in my life outside of my family, Roger Doyle, died in April. We held a wonderful memorial for him in Portland a week ago, there were something like 150 musicians involved in a three hour performance. I was unable to sing because of health reasons, but I was able to direct two different choirs and that was a huge honor. I give enormous props to the Balladeers from the Multnomah Athletic Club, who sang America the Beautiful with a grace and power that I think surprised them. Not me, I know that there's a choir in this group of largely senior men waiting to bust out.

Healthwise, the gout has been gone completely for about a month, and I'm tolerating the Colchicine as I  transition to the Allopurinol. So that's good. However, the pinched nerve is getting worse, and it may be related to a structural problem in my spine. Yay. For now, I can't bike or spend more than a few minutes at a computer or in a hard chair. Even my new Honda Pilot requires me to sit in a particular way or get a massive pins and needles attack. I'm very hopeful that physical therapy will alleviate or remove the problem. Oh, and the hypertension is about where it was. I'm seeing a nephrologist (kidney specialist, who knew they were hypertension people too?) for that, but I think that I'm one of those people for whom medication gets me a short way to a solution and no further. I'm very hopeful that when the aneurism happens it's a big one and I'm not driving at the time.

The worst part of the year, though, believe it or not, has been the return of a vocal problem I had in 2003. What happens, as I now know, is that a nerve that controls a good part of my larynx is either suppressed or dead. The result is that I can't really sing above a certain pitch, and that pitch is below a useable range for even a baritone voice, much less for a rock singer. In 2003, the nerve regenerated well enough for me to sing in 80% of my range within three months, and in nine months I was back to my old self, but a little nervous. Turns out I had good reason to be, as the problem appeared out of nowhere nearly two weeks ago.

Fortunately, I have a much better idea of what the problem is, what the possible surgical options are should the nerve not regenerate, and that it will almost certainly go away in time. Unfortunately, my band Raindriver got very nervous and fired me. Via email. While I was on vacation. It appears that this was simply some very poor decisions on the part of a few members of the band who got very nervous that I would never sing again, but it was enough for me to never want to work with any of them again. The lack of compassion and sense was so unexpected that I picked up my gear, told the leader of the band what I thought of the entire situation, turned on my heel, and left without another word. I've done that maybe twice in my life.

Life is simply too short to make music with, as my good friend Chuck put it, ingrates. Or play games. Or do anything. I expect my voice to recover around August/September and that's when I'll start looking for a new band. A terrible shame, as this band was a lot of fun and had good musicianship and, I thought, a good consensus model. I don't mind the concern about my voice coming back, I do mind that a decision was made without my input or apparently without concern or respect for what I bring to the band. I note that they have removed all information about me from the website, as I would prefer, but I also note that they've left up recordings of me singing. I may need to mention that to someone if it isn't rectified, although a couple of band members have told me that they may not wish to continue. Amazing how fragile community can be, a lesson for us all.

Hilariously, my pinched nerve was never a problem with the band, or with my directing. Maybe the only activity I take part in that hasn't been seriously affected by it.

As for game related material, I just haven't been feeling the love lately, and a long post like this really takes it out of me as I do a lot of starting and stopping as my numb arm allows. We held WBC West 2012 in mid-May and I fully expected my mother to die while I was there. It was fun, but it had a very different feel because I was not trying to play a lot of new games, which turned out to be a very good decision on my part. Lots of Combat Commander, and a gratifying 5th Fleet session where I sank the Wisconsin on the first game day with the Red Air Force.

I've also been attending Rip City Gamers sessions, but right now the company is more important to me than the games, and it's nice to have that support right now. When my wife lost her job last October, I stopped preordering nearly as many wargames, and have almost completely stopped buying Euros (I'm down to a few wargames and experiential games now, mostly expansions to games I have). To be honest, it feels good to have pushed back the collecting monkey on my back, and I expect that by the time we move next year my collection will be much thinner. At some point you just realize that the weight of having all of those games does not make you happier, it just makes moving a bitch. The same goes for books, CDs/DVDs, all the media that has been slowly making it's way to a hard drive (and a back up, always a back up).

For now, though, I'm going to simply announce that the blog is going on hiatus, which it's effectively been doing since the beginning of the year. I've even stopped logging plays on BGG, which is kind of surprising. This isn't depression (I've had depression, I know what it feels like), it's more of a psychic "growth spurt". I suspect that part of it is losing the last two major role models I had in the previous generation. I feel a bit like I've gone through a rite of passage and emerged on the other side changed in some essential way that I don't fully understand but definitely sense. Like I've become an adult, perhaps, forced to face the hard truths about life at last. Maybe it's because I'll be 50 years old in less than nine months and I just can't visualize myself at that age. Hell, I still can't visualize myself at 40.

Regardless, this will probably be the last post for quite a while. There's more change coming in the next 12 months, from my son-in-law graduating from college, us selling our house on the golf course in Wilsonville and moving back into Portland with all of it's foibles, and what I can only imagine will be my mother's last days. There will be a new band, there will be recovery for my voice, hopefully a solution for my pinched nerves, and I expect some things that I frankly don't see coming at all.

Just so long as there aren't as many unexpected changes. I've really had enough of those this year to last for a while. Like I have the slightest control over the world!

For those of you who have been following this blog for the past several years, I thank you for your insight, your willingness to read my long and often rambling posts, put up with my frustration of how the world works, and my strong opinions on pretty much everything. I expect I'll be back, and I'm not shutting the blog down entirely, just continuing to not post. I will put something up when my mother dies, but otherwise I expect to be dark for a long period of time, probably a year or more.

Thanks for listening. It's been surprisingly comforting.