Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

It's been more than a week since I last posted, which is unusual for me, especially lately. But I haven't had that much to tell. Suffice it to say that the past week has been more good than bad. I've had one bad day out of seven, which is pretty much normal for me these days. That's a pretty good average. I shouldn't complain. But as Joe Walsh once said, I can't complain, but sometimes I still do.

I've learned not to write just to make myself feel better, or because a few days have gone by, and I feel like I should keep the ball rolling. Someone told me a while back that the first rule of creative writing is Have Something To Say. Wise words. It's funny, but during my last visit to my oncologist, where he told me the good news about my PSA numbers, he said he didn't need to see me for a few months. He said I should just "live my life." But the past few months have been so rich with news, there's been a lot to say. I told him that I don't mind coming in more often. I almost said I need to keep coming in so I have stuff to write about!

But since I told you what the rest of last week held in store in my last post, I think I should tell you how it went, and what it portends for the future.

Previously, on Mark's Melodrama, I had a rehearsal for my upcoming performance scheduled for Thursday, then a Halloween party with friends on Friday night, which I knew would go late into the night, followed by a rehearsal Saturday morning with the kids I've been helping to coach, dinner here with friends Saturday night, and a gig with the kids on Sunday afternoon. I knew this would test my endurance, and for the most part, I passed the test. Except the whole process started on the wrong foot.

As it turned out, Thursday was my one really bad day last week. For whatever reason, I hardly slept Wednesday night. I've never been good after a bad night's sleep, and the longer I go on hormone treatment, the worse it is for me when I don't sleep well. Lupron makes me weaker every day. I used to be able to power through the day after a bad night's sleep, but that's much more difficult now.

One thing that's kept me from sleeping recently is frequent leg spasms. The muscles in one leg or the other tense up every few seconds. It only happens when I'm lying down, never while standing or sitting, and these spasms make it impossible for me to sleep. I've had this problem infrequently for much of my adult life, but it hasn't happened often enough to seek medical help for it. I just get up for an hour or so, and when I go back to bed, the problem goes away. Except for Wednesday night.

As I laid awake Wednesday night, at about 2:00 AM, I decided to get up for a while in an effort to get my leg spasms to stop. While I was up, I got on my computer and looked at Facebook. When I did, I saw some really bad news from a dear friend and cancer brother. I've become good friends with him and his wife in a support group we both frequent, and I've become very attached to them. So his news hit me very hard. The rest of my night didn't improve after that, and Thursday went sideways for me from that point on.

After about 90 minutes on the computer, I went back to bed. No luck getting back to sleep. My leg kept tensing up every few seconds. I got up Thursday morning having only slept two or three hours at the most. All day I fretted about my friends. I prayed for them, which I do constantly anyway. But last Thursday, my prayers were weak and filled with doubt. I couldn't focus on anything. And I had a rehearsal that night to prepare for.

This upcoming performance has so much material that I've felt the need to break rehearsals up into two sections; The main "bucket list" set, and a mammoth 26 minute medley for the finale. Last Thursday night was supposed to be the first rehearsal for the finale. So I tried to take a nap in the afternoon to make up for lost sleep. I've always been able to nap well, but not that day. When I tried, I had more leg spasms. This time, it was the other leg. Go figure. So I got up after about 90 minutes of trying to nap with no success, just as bad off as I was before, if not worse.

In the end, I had to call off the rehearsal. Only four of them had been scheduled for this gig, and there was no way to make that one up. So now, we're down to three rehearsals for this 26 minute epic.

It's not so much losing that one rehearsal that bothers me. It's wondering if it will happen again. If it does, this whole performance is in jeopardy. All along, I've been looking at this performance as my finale. My swan song. That's why I asked for more time at this annual music festival where sets are normally restricted to 25 minutes because so many people want to play at this event. But because of the fact that my wife and I have been such integral members of this group for a decade now, and because of my condition, allowances have been made for me this year. I'm very grateful for that, and it will kill me if I end up not being able to go through with it because I've had to cancel too many rehearsals when I'm having a bad day.

That experience, coupled with the recovery time I needed from the first rehearsal a week ago last Saturday, makes me realize that this really will be my last big public performance. It will take everything I've got and more to put this one on. Assuming I'm able to make it happen at all. By this time next year, even if I'm not experiencing bone pain, I sincerely doubt that I'll have the energy to put together another big set of my own. If somebody wants me to sing a song or two in their set, maybe we can talk. But I had plans for another huge production for next year as well, and as long as I'm still on hormone treatment, I don't see that happening now. I just don't have the energy for it anymore. Next year will only be worse.

That was my one step back. The good news is, the rest of my weekend was all good. I got a good night's sleep with minimal leg spasms Thursday night. I felt rested on Friday, and for the rest of the weekend. The Halloween party Friday night was great, mainly because it was spent with people that I love very much. We stayed until 11:00 PM, which is very late for us, especially these days. My rehearsal with the kids was at 10:00 AM the next morning, but I was fine. The rehearsal was fun. They always are. I never would have believed how much fulfillment I could get from mentoring young talent, but I do. I love every minute of it.

That night, we hosted friends for a Halloween-themed dinner at our house. It was with the same family in whose home the rehearsals with the kids are held. They are some of a few friends that we've become close to "post-cancer." In one way, our friendship just sort of happened. But in another way, I realize that I've dragged them into my drama, and they came willingly, regardless of how hard my road is on them. Our friendship has been The Gift In The Wound for all of us.

Sunday afternoon, the kids had their gig at a local bar. It was a "Battle Of The Bands" type thing. I got to be onstage with them for a couple of songs. I sang a harmony part on one song, and played organ and sang harmony on another. I'd had a good night's sleep the night before, but even so, you might think I'd run out of gas, considering my schedule the previous few days. But I was energized. I always am in a performance setting. A rehearsal might prove too much for me, but if I feel fairly rested going into a performance, adrenaline will always carry me through it. Sunday was no exception.

As usual, the wrong band won the competition. That often happens in these things. It's actually the norm. Anybody who's ever participated in one can attest to that. But it didn't matter. That wasn't the point. The point was to get these kids some experience in the real world, and that goal was achieved.

I probably shouldn't single anyone out, but I feel moved to say that one of the most exhilarating aspects of this for me is working with a very exciting young singer. This girl can bring the house down at age 17. She did just that on Sunday. I told her afterwards that it's an honor and a privilege for me to be onstage with her, and I meant every word. Over the next year or two, I hope to try to help her become the dominant stage performer I know she can be.

I came home from that show exhausted, but elated. When I look back on that string of four days, it started off very badly, with a major step back for me. But each day thereafter was a good step forward.

One bad day out of seven is a pretty good average. It just stinks that one of those bad days came at the start of a long weekend when I had an important rehearsal scheduled. I hope I can keep to that ratio, at least until my performance on November 20th is over. I really need you to pray that, when a bad day comes, it won't force me to cancel any more rehearsals. It's my own fault that I'm trying to do more than I probably should, but I have to look at it as my last chance to do something big. I need for this to happen, and for it to come off well.

Two steps forward, one step back. Actually, three steps forward, if you take each day of the past weekend into account. At least I'm making some progress. And I'm doing what I love, one last time. #waroncancer

1 comment:

  1. No matter what happens, you will doubt yourself going into the show....but be thrilled you made it through once it's over. That's kind of the life of a performer no matter what's going on, isn't it? You will do November 20, and you will do it well.