779. What It Takes

(Reminder! Join Daron tonight from 7-8pm in the DGC chat room to celebrate the 7th anniversary of Daron’s Guitar Chronicles! And then ctan will video chat from 8-9pm on YouTube Live: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPUQFyNEBCg)

Ziggy headed back to the city (by which I mean “the” city, i.e. New York City, for those of you not from the northeast) and I went with the Nomad entourage to Saratoga Springs, which was an old school upstate resort town known for its racetrack. Horse racetrack, I guess I should specify.

I didn’t see much of Saratoga Springs. I spent most of my time asleep in the bus, then powering my way through a cramp-inducing soundcheck, and then praying that the muscle relaxant would work properly.

It did.

The next night we were in Philadelphia, at the Spectrum, which I had now been to enough times that it was genuinely familiar, and this time I started to cramp up before soundcheck even happened. Carynne–who had tagged along for a couple of dates–and I dithered about whether I should take a pill that early in the day for all of about two minutes and then I took it. I didn’t cramp up again during the show, so that was good.

The next day we were at the Spectrum again and I took the pill before I could even start to cramp up. I remember basically nothing of those shows. I hear they were good, but it was like when my muscles were all relaxed so was my brain and everything just slid right out of it. I suppose it’s good to know that all those hours of musical training pay off when you go on autopilot and it still works.

Carynne drove me back to the city after the second show in Philly so I could have my followup hand appointment the next morning. And spend the night with Ziggy. It was about two in the morning when she dropped me off at his place and I crawled into bed more or less immediately.

“Wow,” he said, lifting my non-casted hand from where I was lying in bed. “Your muscles really are relaxed.”

“And my brain is mush. I mean, mushier than usual.”

“What does it feel like?”

“Like…not much. It’s not mind-altering in any interesting way, and physically it’s not particularly fun, either,” I said. “And no you can’t try one because Flip didn’t trust me with the bottle and he has it.”

Ziggy clucked his tongue. “I wasn’t going to try it myself,” he said in that defensive mock-wounded way that made me think he had found the thought tempting, anyway.

I found myself asking, “Are we okay?”

He lay down beside me and draped the duvet across us. “I think we are, but it’s hard to feel certain when you feel like crap about other things,” he said. “It’s okay, dear one. I don’t need to feel certain all the time.”

“Huh. Okay.” That wasn’t at all what I expected him to say but somehow it made perfect sense. “I guess the thing with being injured on top of being on the road is all the usual ways I gauge whether I feel connected or not aren’t really available to me.”

He nuzzled me in the hair, now no longer damp from my post-show shower but not yet adulterated by any gel or mousse or whatever. I hadn’t bothered. “Not that those ways always work, either,” he said. “If they’re the things I’m thinking of.”

“You mean like sex.”

“I mean exactly sex. You and I had some of our best sex ever when we were on different planets.”

“Is that really true, though?” I tried to remember. “Well, okay, yeah.” That might have covered the majority of times up until recent ones, actually. “Don’t most people gauge the health of their relationships by the amount of sex they’re having?”

“Probably. I’m not sure it’s a good measure, though. Think about it. If you’re super hot for each other, great, but that doesn’t always mean ‘healthy relationship.'”

“True. But it might mean if you’re that attracted to each other then you’ll stick together despite other problems, though?”

“Is that why you stuck with Jonathan?”

“Because I was still attracted to him?”

He gave a solemn nod, his cheek against his hand on the pillow.

“I have no idea why I stuck with Jonathan as long as I did. I knew it wasn’t working. I knew I had to say goodbye. Even if you never came back, I knew I had to move on. But…”


“But I didn’t want to be the bad guy. I didn’t want to break his heart just to save my own. I kept looking for a win-win situation.”

“You managed to stay friends.”

“I did. I think because even though I wouldn’t say our breakup was exactly ‘win-win,’ I had gotten him to understand that staying together was ultimately lose-lose. Neither of us was actually getting what we wanted. But we each appreciated that the other had tried.”

“Seems reasonable.”

“It was all very reasonable. If somewhat…passionless.” I rolled onto my side so I could look into Ziggy’s dark eyes. “Is it a myth that those two things are like a seesaw? You can’t have both?”

He took my limp, uncasted hand in his. “That has to be a myth because to make it in this industry you need both. You need the heights of passion and you need the grounding of reason or you’ll burn out.”

“Okay.” That wasn’t a conversation I was expecting to have. But I felt good about having it. “Okay.”

The next day they took my cast off and I don’t know how gruesome it was because they did that thing again of putting a little curtain between me and my hand so I couldn’t see what they were doing. I decided I was fine with not seeing the state my hand was in.

They did a bunch of medical stuff to it. At one point a doctor said to me, “You know, if it were up to me, you would’ve kept it immobilized for the past week,” to which I said, “Isn’t that why it was in a cast in the first place?”

He had meant in a cast that kept me from moving my fingers, too, though, which maybe would have kept me from cramping up because I wouldn’t have been trying to use those muscles. But maybe I would’ve had those cramps anyway.

The good news was they were switching me to a splint that could be removed. “But not so you can overwork it,” he warned. “Only take it off to shower and if you need to gently–GENTLY–massage out a cramp. You had a lot of severed tissue. It’s still all knitting back together. It’s going to be a couple of months of work with an occupational therapist to restore dexterity to all your fingers and even then I don’t know if you’ll get all the way back to where you were.”

I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you my heart skipped a beat there for a second. But the next thing he said was, “The number one thing that makes a difference in restoring function is how hard you’re willing to work on it and how positive your attitude is.”

“I’m highly motivated,” I told him.

“Good. But you’ve got to follow the directions of your therapist and do your exercises every day.”

I chuckled. “I’m a musician. I’m used to that.”

The new splint was to stay on for three weeks. In my mind that worked out perfectly: I’d get it off right before we went to South America. I still had to rework my parts a little to make sure everything could be played with a regular guitar pick but that seemed doable. Well, as doable as hopping off the road with Nomad, cranking up a new set of crash rehearsals with the Ziggy band, and jetting off to another continent ever was.

They sent me off with my very own prescription for Flexeril, though. Just in case.

(See you guys tonight for the chat! Remember to drop questions for Daron or me to answer either in comments here or on the Facebook event RSVP page. Daron will chat in the DGC site chat room from 7-8pm and then I’ll be video livestreaming on YouTube live here 8-9pm eastern: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bPUQFyNEBCg or as embedded below! -ctan)

1 Comment

  • marktreble says:

    Congratulations on getting through the shows and on a sane conversation with Ziggy!

    Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine) is probably not addictive (the medical community is divided), but can be abused. In combination with other drugs, even over-the-counter drugs such as antihistamines, it is dangerous. It was one of the drugs involved in Whitney Houston’s death.

    Flexeril can induce hypotension (low blood pressure) which, combined with your concussion, can cause you to pass out unexpectedly. Such as on stage. Concurrent alcohol use is not recommended; it increases the mild euphoric effect and further depresses the CNS (Central Nervous System). That is a bad, bad thing. If you drink, expect to pass out.

    Common dosage is five milligrams three times a day. That assumes a 165 pound adult. You are 145 pounds and still metabolize drugs faster than a 35 year old. Under-dose rather than overdose. Expect withdrawal symptoms if you use it daily for more than ten days.

    In Latin America you might be prescribed a muscle relaxant called carisoprodol, sold as Soma in the U.S. It is addictive and, in combination with opiates or opioids, can be fatal. Suffer instead of taking Soma.

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