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Life In A Pandemic Post Transplant

In Uncategorized on March 31, 2020 at 8:53 pm

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By now we are all feeling stress from, disruption from, and both alarm and concern about the COVID 19 virus sweeping the globe.

With “social distincing” and “stay home” recommendations by government, as well as hand washing and “germ” hygene being taught to the public at large, I feel like I have a good grasp of these skills from my lifelong attempt to avoid colds and flu. This is not to say that I am infallable. A few years ago I had the swine flu (or was it the bird flu? I was so febrile I can’t remember.) It was awful.

So now I wait it out. I wait. I’ve done that before! In my life surrounding transplant, the notion of “time” has always beeen weird. We count the days waiting for transplant, and we always count survival post transplant in months. How many months will I be held back from life? It is a necessary evil that I stay home so that I can have a life free from the virus. It is what it is.

I take strict isolation very seriously, and I’m old hat at it! Aside from gigs, and riding the horses, I practice social distance for most cold and flu seasons. In fact April is annually when I start to relax and go out in public more, but not this year. This “bear” is staying in hibernation! For someone like myself with an immune system that is weakened by anti rejection/ immune suppression medications, I am at further risk. Also, my lungs are in the age group most affected by this virus. Oh, and it’s a breathing virus and there’s no way I want to ever be on a ventilator again! And that goes for you too!

We are all in this together: don’t go out if you don’t *have* to. You might be a carrier and not know it. Staying home means working from home if you can (if you weren’t laid off), eating at home, not seeing friends in person but using the telephone (or video conferencing) in the place of coffee dates of happy hour.

Sadly for me it means no horses. Those of you who have followed the blog know that even with an oxygen tank, I was still riding up until the day before my transplants. Not riding, for me, is very weird and we had to quit cold turkey. We are entrusting our farm family to look after our horses and they send us pictures and text messages with reports. It’s a relief, but a big big change in our lives. Basically horses and music define me…. so now is a time to prioritize health. For now, midnight walks with Tom on deserted city streets replace rides on my pony.

I’ve easily filled the days with music, and am hatching several on-line projects, one a remote recording session project, lots of practicing, and of course I can keep recording my radio show Swing Set (available Fridays at 6pm EST on http://www.jazzcast.ca), and rehearsing/learning new songs. Between that and sanitizing all the groceries as they come in the house, I’m busy!

I’ve spent a fair amount of time canceling gigs, up to and including a tour in Alberta later this year. You have to understand that for musicians, not having an audience is very worrysome. Many musicians live on the edge, financially. An undetermined time with zero work is a big worry, as I’m sure it is to lots of people who’ve been laid off. I can still sell albums or do live concerts (of a sort) from my home, but I worry about my sidemen and I’m trying to think outside the box and come up with some revenue stream there. I spoke to the Toronto Star about music in time of pandemic.

Luckily, we have the internet, and Tom and I did our first “live stream” internet concert last weekend to mark what would have been our monthly performance at the Cameron House. It really did help us to a) have a goal (we each had to practise for), b) take a shower and get dressed up, which helped us to feel a quasi sense of “normalcy” and c) we had so many viewers and comments that it enlivened us to see in real-time we were reaching so many, and that it brought joy to everyone. It was also good to see Tom come alive again. He is a more social animal than me, and so he’s struggled from time to time without having his friends to see and let off steam with. You can see his home haircut and the concert which is archived here. 

If you want some further internet entertainment, I just finished making a mini documentary about our transplant story along with my wonderful and well spoken Mother that Trillium Gift of Life published just prior to COVID-19. It’s an important health story that I’m glad to have helped with. Please share it, here’s the link.

Remember, stay home, wash your hards, don’t touch your face, keep your chin up, be kind to yourself and check on others on the phone or by email. Read a book. Listen to music. Follow legit news sources such as the CBC and try to limit screen time to shock news outlets. This too shall pass. We just have to stay positive in the meantime.

Love Alex.

PS a huge thank you to front line workers, hospital staff and essential service providers! TGH have taken the big step in putting all lung transplants on pause temporarily. Let’s flatten this curve NOW so we can all get back to life.

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Twenties Times!

In Uncategorized on January 20, 2020 at 9:14 pm

IMG_2939.jpgWow, it is now the year 2020! This makes me happy for all sorts of reasons. I love the music of the (nineteen) twenties, so I’m loving some of the filmic and musical revivals of that fertile era of songwriting, and style! The Art Deco style. The flapperette. The vamp.

One of the other reasons I’m glad to see the 20s is that I can look back on the last decade as the one wherein I didn’t cough. For so much of my life I rattled off intimidating sounding coughs all day. Right before my transplant, my life was winnowed down to mere survivalism, trying to staunch the flow of endless physical losses. Eleven years ago I got the gift of life.  New lungs. Since that time, I’ve barely coughed at all.  This is a miracle.

The 2010s were the decade when I could finally breath easy life into my artistic ideas (without the niggling interjection of exlosive coughs.) I toured more than ever, and made many recordings. And let me point out the (not so?) obvious: it’s way easier to sing when I’m not coughing all the time! It’s also much easier to do everything, and I try and not take a day for granted. Although, I suppose getting caught up in the minutia of daily living is also an honour I am glad to experience, along with the wondeful things like recording new music, singing the main stage in Montreal, or traveling to Italy (all of which I did in 2019.)

As we head into the 2020s there is good news for CF patients as more gene therapies become available to hopefully prevent the loss in lung function that precipitates the need for lung transplant. (Obvously transplant is a very last treatment option, because outcomes are never assured.) A new medication called Orkambi is making headlines: it’s a patch for the misfiring gene that 90% of CF patients carry at least one copy of. It essentially halts the coughing. No more phlegm. No. More. Cough. I almost wept when I heard this news and what it means for patients struggling today to breathe with Cystic Fibrosis. And, it needs be said, I flipping love scientists!!!

Now we await it’s use in Canada. The FDA has already approved it in the states. Come on Canada — don’t drag your feet here. People with CF lung disease need you to pass this ASAP! For myself, since my lungs don’t have CF genes anymore it won’t impact my lungs. However, it could help my other CF symptoms, liver, spleen, pancreas, etc. (Betcha didn’t know CF was not just a lung disease.)

For me, today, I’m happily dancing the Charleston in joyous abandon, knowing tomorrow the anvil of rejection (or transplant related illness) may fall on my head. If we could avoid the need for transplant, I think we should. Come on Canada! Pass & fund this medication!!!!Screen Shot 2019-11-11 at 2.03.01 PM.png

Love,

Alex

Check out our new music video by clicking this link!

Both Alex’s singles went to #1 on the iTunes Jazz Singles Chart in Canada, thanks to organ donation, and of course our fans ; )

 

 

Mardi Gras Madness, March 5 2019

In Uncategorized on February 6, 2019 at 7:10 pm

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It is that time again folks — the time to honour those New Orleans traditions here in the land of ice and snow!

My group the Alleycats join forces yet again with Red Hot Ramble at Toronto’s great Lula Lounge for the party of the spring!  Here’s a little taste in a video from last year’s finale!

Be there this year, Tuesday March 5th 2019, $20 advance tickets, Dinner reservations guarantee seating, or $22 at the door. Doors 6:30, Music starts at 7:30.

Call (416) 588-0307 to reserve, or online at www.lula.ca

Special drink and menu items will be available in the New Orleans tradition, great music, and beads people, lots and lots of beads!! AND LOTS AND LOTS OF FUN!

2018 Numbers are in!

In Uncategorized on February 6, 2019 at 6:58 pm

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Trillium just released the 2018 record breaking numbers for transplant this week! And the transplant numbers are record breaking.

This is thanks to increasing visibility, increasing vigelence and reporting in hospitals, and partly due to Doctors being able to rehabilitate (lungs) for transplant that may have been damaged.  Some of the increased numbers seem to be coming from the opiode crisis in Canada, so this is the tragic side of the increasing donor pool. I’m so impressed, however, with how Drs Cypel and Keshavjee are able to heal lungs and implant them healthily into those awaiting a second chance at life. Which makes me say, “I love science!”

To the opiode crisis however, if you or someone you know might be struggling, here are some places to reach out to in Canada.

Lastly, on the same week that we got news of the successes of the program, news came that the Ford government are proposing to dismantle the Trillium Network, who with provincial support, have become an international leader in saving lives. The huge concern here is that the network, who help fascilitate organ transplants in Ontario from start to finish, may not receive enough resources or be as effective, thus eroding patient care. This news is petrifying for anybody in the transplant community who has or may in future need the help of this kind of organization to live. If this goes through, people WILL die. The government is also proposing to overhaul the health care system, notably also Cancer Care Ontario.

Read more about the proposal  here from the Globe and Mail’s article this week.

MARDI GRAS 2018 SHOW!

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2018 at 8:20 pm

Alex Pangman Mardi Gras mask

We’re doing it again! Mardi Gras party! The miracle of Transplant has allowed me to keep playing music for 9 years now… This is an annual tradition for me, a Mardi Gras celebration, and I’m joined on stage again by my friends in Red Hot Ramble… read all about it!

Who: Alex Pangman and Her Alleycats & Red Hot Ramble.
What: Mardi Gras celebration with live music, dancing, dining.
Where: Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas Street West, Toronto ON
When: Tuesday February 13th, Doors 6:30pm /
Alex Pangman 7:30pm & Red Hot Ramble 9pm
Contact: alex@alexpangman.com (416) 834-6173
Tickets: $18 advance / $20 at door
Dinner Reservations guarantee seating by calling Lula Lounge (416) 588-0307 or http://www.lula.ca
Toronto vocalist and JUNO nominee Alex Pangman is happy and proud to co-present an evening of Mardi Gras Madness and New Orleans inspired jazz with Red Hot Ramble, Toronto’s own purveyors of southern spirit. This annual winter concert returns to Lula Lounge, a venue brimming with party atmosphere! Ya’ll come!

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It’s ….an EP!

In Uncategorized on October 20, 2017 at 2:45 am

November 2017 marks the delivery of a new album for Alex, this time an “EP”, or extended play album.  It was recorded in New Orleans live to 78rpm acetate disc and will be available as follows on Justin Time Records, November 3rd itunes / November 10th in stores/ November 12 Guelph Ontario/ November 15 BIG ALBUM LAUNCH Toronto/ Nov 24 MontrealQC.  Screen Shot 2017-10-17 at 1.41.32 AM.pngUPDATE: the launch was everything we’d hoped for: it captures the live energy of this recording so well! Enjoy some photos by Sean Ryan from the event below.

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Mississauga Music Walk of Fame

In Uncategorized on August 4, 2017 at 11:59 pm
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Alex Pangman at the unveiling of her stone at Mississauga Music Walk of Fame ceremony 2017 Photo Gabriella Bank

I was recently inducted into the Mississauga Music Walk of Fame, just steps away from where I went to school, and about ten minutes walk to the place I first sang with a jazz band! I gratefully dedicated this award to organ donor heros and the Trillium Gift of Life Network who work so hard to arrange for donation miracles. Thanks also to my own donors, family, friends, bandmates, the ever supportive local media, and to my teachers! I join past inductees Tommy Hunter, Oscar Peterson, Denny Doherty, etc. You can become a donor yourself in Canada at liveon.ca

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Left to right Peter Hill (pianist), Tom Parker, Alex Pangman, Connie Pangman, Jennifer Pangman, Ronnie Gavsie (CEO TGLN)

 

Amy’s 40th

In Uncategorized on June 7, 2017 at 4:31 am

Amy was my transplant mentor. When I met her I was waiting for my first transplant, and she was awaiting her second, something to me which seemed unfathomable at the time.

She demonstrated to me how someone can have complete grace under pressure. Always polite, always modest, always dedicated to staying hopeful and helpful. She was my mentor! And when my second trasplant came around, she again was my mentor. She showed me that it CAN be done twice and that I should believe. She gave me a necklace with the word “believe” on it.

She always dressed stylishly and loved to shop, and to hang out with her family and two dogs, or as we call them “furbabies”.  Like me, Amy also grew up with Cystic Fibrosis but on Canada’s East Coast. We met in Toronto where the big transplant facility is, and so in effect she had to transplant herself to Toronto before she could have lung transplant! (I can’t even imagine the culture shock and added hurdles of lifestyle change that came with relocating to the big city.) She always managed to smile even on the rough days it seemed.

Amy loved walking, and  riding motorbikes, and her handsome and supportive husband.  She had many hurdles, but enjoyed several extra years of love and life until she passed away last summer at the age of 39. The team hoped Amy would be the patient who received an historic third transplant, but there were insurmountable medical hurdles.

Amy really wanted to turn forty.  This week would have been that birthday. I know technically she was in her 40th year when she passed, but she really wanted to see 4-0 on the top of a cake.  I hope she’s eating a big slice up in heaven and is free from oxygen hosing and can breath easily. Happy birthday in heaven, beauitful friend. Thank you for being you.

 

Mardi Gras Madness Concert with Alex Pangman & Red Hot Ramble

In Uncategorized on January 25, 2017 at 10:12 pm

screen-shot-2017-01-25-at-5-10-31-pmFor immediate release:

MARDI GRAS MADNESS event with ALEX PANGMAN & Her Alleycats & RED HOT RAMBLE at Lula Lounge, March 1st 2017.

Who: Alex Pangman and Her Alleycats, & Red Hot Ramble.
What: Mardi Gras celebration with live music, dancing, dining.
Where: Lula Lounge, 1585 Dundas Street West, Toronto ON
When: Wednesday March 1st 2017, Doors 6:30pm / Alex Pangman 7:30pm / Red Hot Ramble 9pm

Contact: alex@alexpangman.com

Tickets: $15 advance / $20 at door

Dinner Reservations Guarantee Seating by calling Lula Lounge (416) 588-0307 or http://www.lula.ca

Toronto vocalist and JUNO nominee Alex Pangman is happy and proud to co-present an evening of Mardi Gras Madness and New Orleans based jazz with Red Hot Ramble, Toronto’s own purveyors of southern spirit. Pangman’s annual winter concert welcomes this fresh experience, in a room brimming with party atmosphere and renown for its dance floor, colourful ambiance, wonderful kitchen, & high quality stage shows.

Red Hot Ramble bring the essence of Mardi Gras to each show. Whether traditional jazz, blues, funk or good old fashioned New Orleans “second line” parade beat, Red Hot Ramble inhabit it all & bring life to every party. Co-lead by pianist/vocalist Roberta Hunt, and drummer Glenn Anderson, the quintet brings together the rich and varied musical experiences of five of Toronto’s most passionate jazz musicians inspired by the music and culture of New Orleans; with Alison Young saxophone/ Jamie Stager trombone/ Jack Zaroswki bass. The band holds a residency at Toronto’s Rex hotel and will perform songs from their latest albumSome Swamp Stomp.

Proudly known as ‘Canada’s Sweetheart of Swing’ Alex Pangman keenly honours the roots of jazz on her JUNO nominated album New which was recorded in New Orleans. Pangman will perform tunes at Mardi Gras Madness which showcase this link to New Orleans heritage and the legendary players and songs the city spawned. Her Alleycats will include John Macleod on cornet, Peter hill piano, Glenn Anderson drums, and Jack Zarowski bass.

The finale will be a collaboration on stage between the two groups: something not to be missed as the final songs will bring out the real Mardi Gras “Madness” in both bands as they join forces to give one final bead throwing hurrah to Mardi Gras 2017!

Why Mardi Gras Madness you might ask? Mardi Gras is a New Orleans tradition beginning on 12th Night (the last night of Christmas) and is the culmination of carnival season celebrations which come to a close with a big parade/bacchanal before fasting for lent. In short, Mardi Gras is a good time, and who among us doesn’t need one of those these days? (Note this event was originally to be held at Hugh’s Room on Febuary 28th but due to circumstances beyond our control, has moved to Lula Lounge.)

For More information visit www.alexpangman.com and www.redhotramble.ca

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2016 in Photos

In Uncategorized on January 10, 2017 at 1:24 am

How does one summarize a year?  I think I’ll concentrate on the good! I reached a career highlight of a JUNO nomination with the help of my musical comminity and through the gift of transplant. I get to sing for people and make them smile and dance.  I got to breath! I GOT TO TURN FORTY!!!  I got to live, love, travel, walk up a steep hill, and win first place at a horse show. We celebrated our 10th Wedding Anniversary by getting re-married in Vagas! For this I am grateful. Here is a montage of the best of 2016!