Hi folks, you’ll pardon my absence: In the past seven days I’ve had five gigs, spent 12 hours on stage, been riding lots, and had been giving 6 ivs a day. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW www.alexpangman.com & read on below for details of my recent history:
Tonight I found myself in a strange time warp.
I was booked to play the Reservoir Lounge, a place I have not worked in years…not since before the city went non-smoking and I let go of my residency there to the betterment of my health.
History has happened since then. Couples have met there, fallen out of love, danced, dined, wined, drank, scrapped, and through it all, The Reservoir, like some curious island rock stands through time, unchanging to the naked eye!
Well, standing on stage there tonight was like standing in a strange time continuem. The room itself is unchanged. The piano, still slightly out of tune, shiny and black, just waiting for my drink to slide off of.
And so there I sang. In a room in which I have sung before, albeit with different lungs. A room in which I have hoped, flirted, despaired, and hoped some more. A stage on which I sung myelf hoarse from diseased lungs. And a stage that I now sang from with beautiful lungs, renewed. Sure, a few of the songs were the same, but the woman, the woman herself on stage was so much different.
Or was she? I’ve certainly entered the second phase of a female vocalists vocal sound. Gone is the girlish trill –I miss it, but do not resent the new deeper, more knowing voice that replaces it. And while my spirit is broadened, it is still in essence no different. (Though, perhaps it feel more joyous with the love of a good man behind me. Family, love, gifts.)
Time…. it swoops in when you’re not looking. Does it change you? Who can say. Doesn’t time change everything? For as I sang tonight: same room, same band, same woman, parts of me *are* different. The faces in the audience like a parade of faces from years past, and some new ones, mimicked what I was feeling inside. This strange confluence of old and new. New. New lungs! New beginning in a familiar room.
I liked it. And as I sang –not once stopping to cough– I thought, “I love nothing more than singing here, right now, in this moment!” I fairly beemed! Some danced, some chatted, some listened reverently, some went out on a limb. It was perfect. I loved the musicians, the music, everything. I thought, “I just love this more than anything!”
But then, I think that very same thing when I play with my country band. I think it when I ride my horse or spend time with my husband.
I pray that health never again removes me from the Reservoir, or from any such place I enjoy visiting. I hope ill health never again removes me from my life, and loves… and if it does, well then, I had today! I HAD TODAY.
Well, now it’s tomorrow night now and I’m still reflecting on how great last night was, seeing everyone, being there — on stage — singing. Clearly. Easily. What a tremendous gift.
I rode my horse today, another tremendous gift: bareback crunching along through the snow, but warm on my toaster pony! This winter and this transplant have provided me the pleasure of returning to winter snow riding. With my knee injury, however, skating and skiing will have to wait.
And then, at home tonight I pulled Tom’s clarinet from the closet, put it together, and then, my friends, I BLEW ON IT! The dog was horrified, I was horrified! It was awful! But after a few minutes of sqwacking I was able to play a scale. Holy cow: I PLAYED THE CLARINET! I could feel the back pressure filling up my lungs, could actually feel their walls, (something my surgeon said was fine). Finally, that recurring dream I have of pulling out the “licorice stick” has come to fruition. Now, if only I could play more than a scale!
It’s been a few weeks and people keep asking “where have you been! Why no post?” The answer is that I’ve been busy as hell with
a) finding Tom a horse (or “horse shopping” as I like to say. Another beast being examined for possible purchase soon)
b) lots of gigging/singing
c) giving myself a whopping six iv infusions a day for a chest infection which came as a result of my December cold.
But I’m feeling good. Lots of energy to ride and sing and do it all. My oxygen saturation at the clinic today was ONE HUNDRED PERCENT!
The knee is coming along also despite the tears in it which I can blame on my newfound dependance on prednisone to prevent rejection.
Oh, and I had the extreme pleasure of singing for the Lung Association‘s event “Breathe” which was a wonderful evening of music and health care workers (doctors, researchers, nurses etc etc). My band played, and then I gave a brief talk about my story. I kept meeting Doctors who along the way have seen me inside and out. It BLEW MY MIND that both my CF Doctor (pre transplant) AND my post transplant Doctors were all at the gig. That they get to finally HEAR the vocal chords & lungs they’ve so often SEEN on bronchoscopies! One man even came up to me and said, “I haven’t seen you since you were flat on your back in the ICU post transplant!” (My immediate thought was that I probably sound better without all those tubes down my throat) Anyhow, it was a great night of music, surrounded by supporters of lung health, the public, doctors, nurses, etc. I laughed that the event was sponsored by a drug company. I’ve been sponsored by the drug companies for years! Or is it the other way around?! Hahahaha!
And wonders of wonders, Trillium Gift of Life announced that 2009 was the BANNER YEAR in ONTARIO for organ and tissue donation! THE BEST YEAR OF THE DECADE!!! It was a good one, with lots of publicity from the Sick Kids baby-heart story, to Natalia’s near-run transplant miracle covered by the Star & CBC, and the efforts of yours truly. All those articles might seem like drops in the bucket, but it only takes one person signing their consent for it to be worthwhile. Don’t forget that I’ve long hidden from the glare of the media with my health story, so to know that Transplant numbers were way up this year makes me feel happy. As if “coming out of the CF closet” had some positive outcome.
And, on that note, congrats to both Garry and my wonderful mentor Amy who both got their transplants this year !!!! This is Amy’s second time around, and she was a great support to me post transplant: I sent her a Lickin’ Good Fried t-shirt for when she’s up and at’ em again. Such news always gives me goosebumps. It proves to me that miracles CAN and DO happen, and we can make them happen!
Please do try and make it down to one of our many gigs, a list of which is viewable on our NEWLY RE-LAUNCED www.alexpangman.com
*ps: Of note; Alex & Her Alleycats play FIRST TUESDAYS of the month @ the Reservoir, 7-9 pm $5
*pps; Of ONGOING note, Lickin’ Good Fried have had our Sunday run @ the Dakota extended. We are now the on-going Sunday night supper band! 7-9pm, $pwyc