God, or Circumstances

I believe it was 1991 when I got into a tussle with the Snake River. The river won. I fought with everything I had, but lost consciousness in a horizontal hydraulic.  I can’t say with certainty that it was God, or circumstances that saved me, but I should have died and I didn’t. Either way, my life now is bonus time. What I learned from the river is that I’m not in control of when it’s my time to go. It seems like a cold, hard fact, but once I accepted it, life seemed more precious to me.

I’m giving you this background story so you’ll understand how I feel about things now. I’ve heard many times lately…”You’ve got this”. I love all the support and encouragement I’ve been getting, but I think I need to disagree. I’m not in control. I don’t have this. If it’s my time to go, I’ll go. Don’t get me wrong, I’m doing everything possible to beat this cancer. The prognosis is good, and I believe I’m gonna be just fine. They say attitude matters, and I’ve got a good one. I make the appointments fun for my doctors and nurses. I’m still making music, and even working in the garden. I eat right and exercise. If anyone can beat this it’s me, but still….I’m not gonna live forever.

However, I will live today. I’m really gonna live….every day until I die! I have a great life, filled with love and music. I will always enjoy being a grumpy old man with a mushy inside. I’ll keep doing what I do, for as long as I can. But I won’t fight fate. I’m not in control. I feel confident when I say, I ain’t got this! I never did, and never will.

Tomorrow I get two brachytherapy treatments. They’ll insert seventeen tubes into my prostate, and put radioactive pellets inside the tubes. They’ll be in there for an hour in the morning and another hour in the late afternoon. They’ll give me a saddle block so the tubes can stay in all day. That creates the toughest part of the procedure…..staying in bed all day! Yikes! And I’ll do the whole thing again in two weeks. After that we  get to play the waiting game, to see what the cancer does. We’ll see what God, or circumstances do.

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Yeah…..But…..

My most frequently asked question these days, for obvious reasons, is “How are you feeling?” My answer is usually the same, “Okay” or “Tired.” Occasionally I’ll say “I’m old and grumpy.” Then I hear it. “Yeah, but how are you really feeling?” So here they are, my real feelings. I’m feeling okay, oftentimes tired. Usually I feel like a grumpy old man.

Of course there are deeper feelings. Sometimes it’s scary. Cancer is serious business, and sometimes I worry because the treatments are expensive. Sometimes I’m happy. My doctors and nurses are a lot of fun. So all in all, I’m doing okay. Treatments make me tired and…..well…..you know the rest.

Aside from feelings, here’s what’s going on. The hormone treatment won’t start wearing off until January. Translation; I still cry about stupid stuff, and get confused about my emotions. I’ll be happy when that’s over.

I go five times a week to get radiation treatments. I have to drop my pants and climb onto a table. There’s a mold that my legs fit in, so I’m in the same position every day. They scoot me around until the laser lights line up on my tattoos. I have to hold still after that. Then they cover me with a nice, heated blanket. I like that part. After that they send me into the machine, where I get a CAT scan. They bring me back out and I wait for the doctors approval, all the while holding perfectly still. Then it’s back into the machine. I hear something going around me. It shoots me with radiation. That’s when I go to my happy place. Soon they pull me out of the machine and I run for the restroom. Oh, did I forget to mention? All of this has to be done with a full bladder. I have to hold still all that time while having to pee! Ugh! I guess a full bladder pulls away from the prostate keeping it away from the radiation. It makes sense I guess.

Today is the halfway mark for the external radiation. The treatments are going as planned. The prognosis is good, and I’m feeling…..okay.

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It was a huge success! The benefit went so smoothly. My friends did a great job of planning and organizing the whole thing. Twenty two acts performed on three stages. The raffle and auction items were out of this world! Roughly three hundred people showed up and bought three thousand raffle tickets. There was very little drama, and a whole lot of fun. The people around me are good people. They raised enough money for me to get current on my medical bills, and there’s some left over for future treatments. I am humbled. I never dreamed there are so many people who cared.

So that’s the awesome overview of a beautiful day! But I’ll dig a little deeper. Underneath the love and gratitude is a feeling of uneasiness. This is hard. It’s hard to be in the spotlight, with everyone feeling sorry for me. It’s hard to watch people struggle with their words, not knowing what to say to me. It’s hard to admit, I can’t do this alone. I don’t want to dwell on the negative, but it’s real and I want to share honestly. So there it is.

I’m grateful for the love, and the help, and I’m happy to share my journey with anyone who’s interested, but I’ll be glad to have this over with. Phase two of treatments is just getting started. I’ll be getting external beam radiation until the end of October. Someone told me it’ll make me glow in the dark! I hope so. I’ll let you know. 🙂

Soon this will all be behind me, and I can go back to being that guy in the background making music for you. Until then, thanks for sharing this journey with me.

 

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The Dark Side

Up until now, I’ve tried to keep everything I share positive. Attitude is important. But so is honesty, and let’s face it, cancer sucks.

I’m only in the first of three phases of my treatment, and already I’m impatient for it to be over. The hardest part so far is letting my guard down, and accepting help. I’ve always been independent and don’t like to ask for help. I suppose, since this is the hardest part, that it will also be the best life lesson I get from this adventure. But time will tell.

Phase one is hormone treatment, in order to shrink the tumor. Hormones mess with my emotions. Let me rephrase that. Hormones take every emotion I have, and mix them up in a blender, until I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. So I do both. Sometimes they sneak up on me at the worst time. Yesterday I wanted to light a fire pit and cook out. I went to the grocery store to get meat and something to drink. While I was shopping, my best friend sent a very sweet text to me, and off go the emotions. So there I was, standing in the beer aisle, holding my brats, with tears running down my face because of a text message. I am so ready to go back to being a grumpy old man.

Then there are all the well meaning people who want to save my soul, or at least get me to go to their church. One text read, “I pray that this will bring you to a closer walk with God”. Be careful what you pray for. The only way I could get any closer to my God is to die and go to heaven! I really do love all my friends, and appreciate them sharing their beliefs. But I hate religion.

I’m not complaining here, just trying to shine a light on the dark side. It’s real and it’s hard. Late nights are the worst. I don’t sleep much. I get up in the middle of the night and go sit in my garden, or read a book. I guess it’s appropriate that I feel darkest at night.

I’m grateful that the sun rises every day, and so does my mood. I’m grateful for the wonderful people going through this with me. I’m hopeful that anyone following this adventure will get some good from it.

I’m sending all my love……from the dark side.

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…..Wait…..What?

The upside to cancer….wait….what? An upside to cancer? It’s true, there are some great things about having cancer. After the diagnosis, the thing I heard loud and clear, from doctors, family, and friends alike, was ATTITUDE MATTERS. I took it to heart. I set out to have a good attitude (no small feat for a grumpy old man). A good friend suggested thinking of all the things I’m grateful for each morning. It makes a difference!

…..and all this LOVE! I’ve never been too concerned about what people think about me. It turns out that a lot of people care about me. I’m getting messages, and cards, and hugs from people every day. It’s overwhelming. Every day I spend alone time in my garden. Lately it’s spent processing all that’s going on. I’m blown away by the love.

So many people have stepped up. They’ve planned a benefit to help with the cost of treatment. My music friends will perform (22 acts on 3 stages), others have been donating items to be auctioned or raffled off. My friends are awesome! The Ogden music scene is the best! We are family

I’m a giver, not a receiver. I find it difficult to accept help, forget about me asking. So I guess this blessing comes in the form of a life lesson. It’s not easy right now, but it’ll pay off in the long run. I’m learning to put aside my ego and let it happen. I know it’s important to accept help, and that others will be blessed by being givers.

I love seeing how my illness has brought people together, everyone doing what they can for the same cause. I’m humbled to be in the middle of this whole experience. I’m grateful to feel loved and respected. Truly, my cancer has made this world a better place. It’s given good people a chance to shine. It’s given family and friends a common goal.

Don’t get me wrong. THIS CANCER HAS GOT TO GO!                                                            But the blessings…..They’ll last a lifetime.

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And the Hot Flashes…..Yikes!

I have cancer. There, I said it.

My ex wife, my daughter’s mama, died on July 12th, 2012, from, you guessed it, cancer. I was diagnosed on July 12, 2017, on the anniversary of her passing. What does this mean? Is this just a continuation of her battle? Is there some meaning in this? How do I tell my daughter her dad is sick?

Here are the details. Prostate cancer is typically slow growing and easy to treat. But I’m not typical. I have a very aggressive, fast growing type of cancer. I’m in stage 3 and it needs to be stopped immediately. This cancer feeds on testosterone, so the doctor put me on hormone therapy in order to starve the cancer and make it shrink. I take shots to stop the production of testosterone, and pills to block it from getting to my prostate. The plan is hormone therapy for two months, followed by external beam radiation for five and a half weeks. After that I’ll have brachytherapy (internal radiation) twice in a day, and again two weeks later.

The first few weeks were a whirlwind of emotion. I went from fear, to anger, to denial, and back again, over and over. But it’s been almost a month now and I’ve settled into it. I’m okay. The hormone therapy is tough. It messes with my emotions. I’ve always been a crusty character on the outside, with a soft inside. Now I’m just soft. I hope it’s not permanent. There’s nothing I like more than getting grumpy. And those hot flashes…..Yikes!

For today, I’m doing alright. I’m calm. I’m letting my guard down and accepting help. I can hardly believe all the love that’s coming my way! I’m grateful. Today is a good day to be alive.

 

 

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Metaphors- My Garden, My Life

In the world of extreme sports, gardening probably isn’t even on the list. I don’t care. I consider myself an extreme gardener. It may be the one thing that rivals music, for my passion. There are lots of things to learn from a garden, if you pay attention. I had some fun today, coming up with a few metaphors.

  • Just like a seed, you’ve got to push through dirt, compost, and manure, to get to the sunshine.
  • You need an occasional rainstorm, to make you grow.
  • Prune the out of control branches, and you’ll have better fruit.
  • Pull the weeds out of your life. They steal your nutrients.
  • A nurtured garden/life attracts peace, and love.
  • Like a garden, we’re only here for a season, but our seeds live on.

May your garden be beautiful, productive,  and filled with love! 

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Bill N’ Diane

I had a great time working in the studio with these two. They released their four song EP last month. You can find them on iTunes, Youtube, cdbaby, Amazon, ect.

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Ariana Jadin

Ariana is a student of mine. She just released her first album and I couldn’t be more proud. Go buy it at cdbaby, iTunes, or Amazon.

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Swamp Rat

An instrumental I wrote and recorded. A fun fact; I got the percussive sounds, before the drums come in, by walking in a pile of sticks and leaves. I was trying for an outdoorsy feel.

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