Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Hardcore Journal Entry -- April 24, 2005

"Chubby Fresh...in a thong, pasties and a ridiculous amount of make up."

"Jeff Nelson...in a naughty French Maid outfit."

"Sean McCabe...in assless chaps and a sports bra."

I clung to these images in my head as Ingrid, one of the Oncology Fellows on my brother's medical team, performed my physical exam. Doctors should never be that attractive, and certainly not that young. And they should never wear a skirt above the knees when performing a physical on a dude. It's just not fair. She looked like an actress that played the part of a Doctor. Anyway, if she was going to ask me to turn my head and cough, I needed a distraction to avoid the embarrassment of The General snapping to attention.

"Mike Judge...in nothing but a bandana, construction gloves and an athletic supporter."

After my exam, I got to meet with my brother's medical team. My brother's name is Michael, and he has Hodgkin's Disease. He underwent treatment a couple of years ago and battled his cancer into remission, but after a year he had a relapse. This is very discouraging because when you normally get Hodgkin's Disease into remission, it usually stays there. The recovery rate is around 90%. My brother's relapse is a concern, because the likelihood of reoccurence jumps significantly if there is a relapse. Since he has a compromised immune system from round after round of chemotherapy and radiation, his treatment this time around involves a bone marrow transplant, which is why I'm in Philadelphia today.

A bone marrow transplant involves a procedure where doctors stab me in the ass for several hours with large pointy needles in order to extract the good stuff. Apparently, bone marrow is where white blood cells are created, so the process involves zapping my brother's white blood cell counts down to nothing with radiation, and then blasting my healthy white blood cells into his blood stream so they can nuke any remaining active lymphoma in his body. I'm happy to do it for my brother, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. I've never had surgery before.

Throughout the entire consultation, the doctor sitting to my right side was breathing through her mouth, quite loudly I might add. She didn't sound healthy at all. There were several instances where she would make grunting and gurgling noises in between breaths that, at times, made it sound as if at that very moment she was trying to pass a particularly dry stool. On several occasions, I've heard stuff like that in the bathroom stall next to me, but never in a meeting where six different people were involved.

However, nobody else seemed to notice, which I found intriguing because after spending my fair share of time in rehearsal studios going full blast without the thought of protecting my ears, I'm pretty certain I have a degree of hearing loss. Nobody seemed to notice the jet engine in a labcoat next to me, though. Maybe it was all just white noise for them.

The whole train ride home, I have felt a little unsettled. I'm thirty-four years old, and I am realizing, just now, that I have been involved with hardcore and punk rock for over half of my life to date. It's like I've lived two entirely different lives. I've been involved with hardcore so intimately that it's to the point that I hardly remember what life was like before I got into music.

One of the themes that has stuck with me through the journey thus far has been that 7 Seconds "Young til I Die" mentality. I'm approaching middle-age in a few years, and I still feel young. Despite my rotting hair follicles, people often tell me I look much younger than my age. I don't know if it's some kind of mystical healing properties that hardcore music has, or if it's the social retardation that's often involved with being a hardcore "kid" well past teenage years. Whatever it is, I still feel young.

However, watching my brother battle his illness recently has taken a little bit of that feeling away. At least for today.

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