Friday, October 31, 2014

The Liver Chronicles - How To Waste A Life

I had an interesting evening. "My story" such as it is has shown up in bits and pieces throughout this site. Some of remarked that it paints the picture of someone facing a catastrophic illness with dignity and compassion, two words rarely associated with a music critic. Ted Allen from Chopped asked for more and so did some of you. My life and times here are not pretty. Wondrous childhood memories and lasting friendships don't exist. Life can be cruel...

My childhood was spent learning how to mentally outsmart those that bullied, harassed and seemed down right angry at my presence here on earth. I wasn't good at sports. I was beaten regularly by a militaristic father who to his credit didn't single me out but it made little difference when either my sister or mother were on the end of his wrath. My only real memory as a child was attempting to hug my father and have him pull away. He is still doing it but now with a nurse younger than I am while my mother endures the situation with shameful silence. I always had music. Rated as one of the best clarinet players in the state, I quickly moved to tenor sax realizing the odds of chicks hooking up with a clarinet player were that of starting at second for the Los Angeles Dodgers. The superior ratings continued. I was a hydrocephalic baby. My head was far too large for my body and this was brought to my attention every single day for roughly ten years if not more. I played in countless local jazz ensembles and was once requested to sit in with the great Albert Collins.

In high school I was diagnosed with polycystic kidney, a severe kidney disease controllable with diet but with complications that do effect the liver. Toss in the beginning of what would be an on again off again thirty year chronic binge and disaster is given a nice base from which to operate. Not if...but when. I did it to myself. I own this despite the fact they really aren't sure of where to lay the exact cause and it is of little matter at this point. I was self medicating. I wanted not to feel some things and milk of amnesia seemed the way to go...In the back of my mind I knew better but really didn't care about the outcome. When your self worth never gets out of the starting gate, you may not necessarily be suicidal but you truly don't care. You suffer in silence. During college I cracked one of the top 25 markets in radio and television working as on air talent for three different radio stations and as a news writer and reporter for the ABC affiliate. My column is currently syndicated through Gannett.

I did well at work, always punctual and always exceeding expectations. A great many jobs began leaving Louisville before the economic crash and when it hit I began writing about economics for the Courier - Journal. Tired of the death threats, I came back to music where I was promptly black listed for some of my published thoughts and told point blank "my kind was not welcome." I came from no where to become perhaps the leading Independent writer in my area. As my health continued to fail the daily joy was fast becoming the daily grind so I am opting out and soon. I want to enjoy and find some personal peace with the time I have left. I have endured surgical procedures and treatments that by my most accounts could be considered torture. I've been through enough.

There isn't really much left to say. Nothing profound. Nothing earth shattering. To some this is a story they have heard before in various forms, to others this may be an autobiographical nightmare. I also suffer from encephalopathy. I become forgetful, I anger and tire easily. Confusion is similar to that of a dementia patient and if you add that to the liver cancer it is truly an experience you never want. I hope to work on bringing attention to transplant issues that hold back ACA from actually working for the common good. Right now I simply hope to make it through the day without a trip to the hospital...Again.

Be well,
Brent