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  • Writer's picturestephensgerald10

Health update

The big news is that I am having my right hip replaced Dec. 14. It's my first step in becoming a robot. I was thinking, in this era, I get the metal hips, ball and socket and what not, and maybe by the time in the future when I'm supposed to pass away, I could be fully robot? What do you think? Could I be the first ever robot jazz piano star? Does that exist? If I am the first, this could be revolutionary. Trailblazer. I know the music won't have as much soul, but maybe if most of the world is all AI by then, my tunes would go viral? Just brainstorming here. Oh wait, there is Herbie's Rockit. It figures that if I can imagine it in jazz piano that Herbie or Duke already did it. Those guys got more soul than anyone, although I don't think Duke did a robot song. Funny, I grew up in the 80's and knew Rockit before I even knew who Herbie was, or what jazz or really any black music was at all. It's a legendary early hip-hop piece, it seems.

Back to me, I have needed this hip replacement so badly for years now. Most people who know me are aware that it's an issue, but probably don't know how much. Jamie knows. We were in New Orleans, walking the area around the famous Cafe du Monde, on a beautiful Halloween morning in 2016, and all of a sudden, I was making her get me to a bench so I could sit down, because of a sudden serious amount of right hip pain. (NOLA folks put their makeup and costumes on in the morning?!? Can't hang with the level of partying.) This happened all week. I had to stop and sit a lot. There's one of my favorite pics of my beauty in that famous beignet spot, she was so happy to get those. It's somewhere in my Facebook pics if you wanna look back 4 years. But I was in pain. I was bitching, screaming out in pain and complaining so much, just trying to get up the steps to the really nice condo which we were borrowing from friends. We did not know it was arthritis yet.

This had started earlier that year when I actually went to the Beale St. Music Fest as a fan for the first time in years, to see Neil Young and Promise of the Real with a friend. Great show, but I was hurting so badly walking back to the car, realizing something was really wrong.

A month after the Halloween scenario, I toured Spain with the John Paul Keith band. I still didn't know what was going on, had some theories, had found out from a chiropractor about my scoliosis in my lower back. At 45 years old. Oh well, better late than never. Should've known before, since all these things are in the DNA of most of the people in my mother's side of the family. I did so much acupunture then, almost every day between getting home from Halloween and leaving for Spain the week before Thanksgiving. Beautiful tour, but walking around the cities and airports was so painful. I made it work though.

Cut to now, and I've tried 2 years of stem cell therapy, which didn't really work, I got into hot yoga, which helps so much, but had a year of touring with another band which made it almost impossible to get to a hot room regularly, and now this quarantine has paused my gym/yoga studio work for most of a year. The pain has gotten worse throughout.

Another thing many of you know that happened to me is that I contracted necrotizing fasciitis in both legs while on tour last year, culminating in 4 surgeries to save my life last year, 3+ weeks in the hospital, blood clots, and the end of my touring life with that band, although not of my own choosing. It turned out for the best, but that was terribly inconvenient at the time. This caused me to to miss a tour of Russia, a blues cruise on the Mediterranean, and another tour of Spain, all of which I had on the books. Fun stuff. A good result was that the only times my hips didn't hurt me in the last 4 years, and some of the only times in my life that my sinus issues and allergies were almost totally gone were when I was in the hospital recovering from all this. Clean and sterile were good things, even before the pandemic.

Needless to say, all that drama put off any idea of a hip surgery for a while. I am fully recovered as much as possible from last years drama, except that I have surgery scars, and numbness and a bruising feeling that may stay with me a while, or forever. Shout out to Dr. Mark Miller and Methodist Germantown for saving my life last summer, and for all the good docs and nurses, hospital and home health who helped me recover, and also to all the friends who came over here to the house to sit with me while I was recovering. Thank you again to everyone who donated to my GoFundMe last year. You are the reason that situation did not bankrupt us. So glad for you.

I have been very extra-careful during this pandemic. I have done only one outdoor gig this past summer, and one socially distanced Facebook Live stream from a friend's studio. Other than that I have been here in my recliner or at my digital piano, practicing and teaching Zoom lessons. I am so thankful and grateful that I have some students, Rhodes College ones and private ones, and that I have been able to teach from home.

Musically speaking, I am 100% back into my so-called jazz piano studies after years of going in some other directions. I love this part of it, and have been really enjoying learning on my own. I appreciate all the support I got from many of you when this pandemic started and I hustled to put up so many live streams. Somewhere during the summer, I required myself to back off from so much of that, so I could go back into the proverbial woodshed and start changing my playing for the better, and way more to my satisfaction. I will probably write another blog post about the music angle here, and I will be hitting the live home streams again soon after whatever recovery I need to do, and probably will perform across more online platforms than I was doing before.

I actually need the left hip replaced pretty badly too, that's come up as a strong second in pain and movement restriction for me. One at a time though. When I was young, I thought arthritis was just something kind of painful that happens to old folks who are living through their last years of life. Wrong! This can happen to anyone, and it is no joke. When I was 45, a Campbell Clinic doc told me I have the arthritis of an 80 year old. I am in good company though, as I just found out that Miles Davis had a hip replacement in his 40's. I am barely making that timeline, as I am having my first one at 49. I hope to get them both before 50, but we shall see. That particular doctor wondered aloud how I got it so bad at this young age. I know. Scoliosis and long legs playing piano pedals sideways for 40+ years. All kinds of ramifications from this have been happening my whole life, and I could write a whole other blog post about it, which I probably will do soon.

I have different insurance now. My hip replacement will be at the Baptist OrthoSouth Surgery Center, and will be done by Dr. Jared Patterson a week from tomorrow. This week I will be having a couple of pre-surgery meetings, one with the doc, one for a physical therapy lesson beforehand, and a COVID test. I look forward to taking walks again, doing plank poses (for some reason those have been painful), and any other yoga and physical activity which includes bending at the hips. I am not sure how soon all that will be possible recovery-wise, or how much the left hip will be able to do, for a while anyway.

On top of all of this, it seems that Jamie maybe has a torn rotator cuff, so we're kind of struggling. That's a very serious thing too, but we're handling it. We're tough, and we don't have the virus, we don't have anything fatal even though we do have some serious stuff going on. It's a part of life I guess. I don't mind the struggle as long as I know what it is and what to do about it, even though pain, of course, is not fun. We all struggle, and figuring it all out is such an issue sometimes.

I hope you and your families and friends are holding on, doing ok, working through your struggles successfully, managing your problems and issues well, and I wish the most amount of health, happiness and success to you all during a complicated and serious time.

Let's have some fun and enjoy some music, shall we?

Peace and love,


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2 comentarios

06 dic 2020

G, I forgot to mention that I have congestive heart failure, a bleeding ulcer, and type 2 diabetes, allergies to shellfish and nuts, and a bunch of other stuff as well as my back issues. But I'm happy to say I look very healthy and I smile a lot to keep the good vibes happening. And, I still love to dance.

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06 dic 2020

Gerald, I have such respect for you and your wife and how well you carry out the struggle to stay human, well, and musical. As you know I am several years older but I have developed five herniated discs and connected arthritis over the years as a consistent dancer every chance and every place I was able. Because of this condition, I understand clearly about pain. I am unable to walk for more than about five minutes before I have to sit down and I am experiencing more and more excruciating pain for which my current physician is insisting I only use Tylenol and external pain creams etc. This stuff doesn't work very well either. I am seeing an o…

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