Friday, May 03, 2013

Jessica Williams Recovery - May 2013

Page updated May 1st, 2013. 
I am recovering from Lumbar (lower back) 3-level fusion with PEEK cage bone graft surgery and stainless-steel instrumentation, with 6 pedicle screws, 4 bone cages, and 2 radiolucent rods. Add to that a 3-segment Smith-Peterson Osteotomy, The autografts (bone-infusions) were taken from my inner pelvic bone, the iliac crest. After the bone-infusion heals, my surgeon(s) may want to remove the metal parts (see video and MRI below.) 
I am requesting your financial assistance to survive the year-plus healing process before returning to playing again. Pre- and post-op views: click here to view MRI's
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Report: May 1st, 2013. 
" Hello, loving friends. I am presently weening myself from the awful pain killer Norco, which is a Big Pharma concoction of Hydrocodone and Acetaminophen in 10mg strength. It is an Opioid. Recently, my lovely State made the miraculous political move of legalizing medical marijuana for chronic pain. I was evaluated and prescribed Cannabidiol, also known as CBD Oil, a crushed-flower extract that I take sublingually (under the tongue) once daily. It doesn't get one high, but it kills pain, and is so much more effective than the addictive Norco. And even though it's a marijuana extract, there's no smoking involved. It's a greenish-brown plant derivative that has the consistency of jam, and I use a tiny amount, about the size of a half-grain of rice.
It has been good for my health, good for my State, good for the revenues it brings in to my State, and good for the many returning War Veterans who seriously need relief from their often ghastly chronic pain. And it is not addictive. I see this as an example of Laws for the Good of the Many as opposed to harsh, tyrannical oppression, which never works for long, and only creates scarcity, increased criminal activity, and unhappiness. It shows me that my country can still move forward and use logic and compassion instead of greed and corruption to create a better future for all of us. I still love my America so very much. It's my home.
I play piano almost every day. I can play now for about 40 minutes before I need to lie down and rest. I listen to the radio. I've even grown fond of some of the "New Country" tunes. When I'm feeling tired or blue, I "put my Country on". I was born in Maryland, right on the Mason-Dixon Line, and spent a lot of time in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia... so it's a natural thing for me. I sing along.
I also listen to the classical stations. I love Bach, and I am immersed in the Russian composers, with Tchaikovsky at the lead. A true romantic for the romantic in me.
You said "no jazz?" to which I reply: as the music inside of me goes, so I follow. I love jazz, and I will always love Miles, Monk, Trane, and all of the greats. I played with "Philly Joe" Jones and Tony Williams and Dexter Gordon and Charlie Rouse and Eddie Harris and Stan Getz. I can't erase that, nor would I want to. I spent 50 years with jazz, and it's a part of me. I can never forget that. Don't worry! There will always be jazz in my blood and in my music. But there are things that I still have to contribute, and I don't follow the pack, as you've probably noticed! I won't ever play in a club again, though. My concerts will be no more than 75-90 minutes long, just as they almost always were, and I have new experiences to bring. Music doesn't move forward without change, and I MUST follow the changes in my own life. It is my own version of The Golden Path.
Just like painters paint what they see, I must play what I hear. I found this quote that sums up my life and where I go from here:
"Nature loves courage. You make the commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not grind you under, it will lift you up. This is the trick. This is what all these teachers and philosophers who really counted, who really touched the alchemical gold, this is what they understood. This is the shamanic dance in the waterfall. This is how magic is done. By hurling yourself into the abyss and discovering its a feather bed." - Terence McKenna
At 65, my life begins again. This IS a miracle. I DID have to face all my fear. "Face your Fears or they will climb over your back."
So I write down melodies of my own and work on them when I'm feeling strong. I don't have very much strength or stamina, but LOTS of ideas. I practice scales like a good student, just as John Coltrane or Glenn Gould did, and I record the music in my head, in rough form, onto a CD or I write it down.
I walk at least a kilometer a day (to the mailbox), and I dance in the kitchen... well, it's my version of dance, with soft flowing movements very akin to Tai Chi Chuan, and I study Qi Gong (Ki Chung) which is a medicinal, self-healing Chinese Art. I went to a gym once, but almost fell off of the treadmill. My neurosurgeon admonishes me to stay away from gyms, and to exercise within my abilities. Walking is great for me, but I don't go very fast. When I get home, I head for the bed for a few hours rest.
And I've never played any sports, never done anything too physical. But those of you who have seen me play know that I get a real workout when I perform. I always tried to keep up with the men. Now, I'm happy just being me and bringing my female self to all of my music. This music needs Yin and Yang, and jazz (both local and world-class) could be more welcoming to women players. I think my struggle to "keep up" is one reason that my back gave out. We're built different, we think different, and we are different, so we must never be in competition with anyone for long. Our way is cooperation. (I think cooperation and an open heart and mind is good advice for the guys, too.)
I love to play 'frisbee' in the yard with my little dog Angel (a Boston Terrier). I love the taste of food but am still at 148 pounds (67.1 kilos) and with my height at an even 6 feet tall or 1.8 meters, I am skinny like a model. But it feels good to move, and my movements get gradually easier. I sure look good in clothes now! The hardest thing for me is what I am doing RIGHT NOW which is sitting at a computer keyboard and updating this chronicle.
It still hurts enough that I can't sit for more than 40-50 minutes or stand for too long. It's a slow road back. Of course, good lovin' always makes hard times easier, and I am very happy to say that I am blessed.
I think I've said enough.
This is/was/will be one incredibly difficult and painful operation to have, with a recuperation period that can extend for several years. Morselized bone grafts do not heal in 6 weeks or even 6 months. Some people's PEEK cage grafts never fully solidify. So I still have the metal in me, the pedicle screws and the rods and the bolts and the PEEK cages. Dr Hanscom says that I will keep them for life or until a screw comes loose. I don't want any loose screws!!!
In summary, I just want to thank you all, from my heart, once again. You are helping me get through the hardest, most painful time in my life, and, although I'm not there yet, I am getting there! Blessings to you all. Stay well and stand up straight!"
 - JW, May 1st, 2013

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