Posts Tagged ‘stroke’

Went to the neurologist this afternoon. She looked over the MRIs and what not. Told me I have an arachnoid cyst on the right hemisphere. It could be the thing responsible for the weakness on the left side, the loss of ability to speak, and the general “things ain’t working right”-ieness I’ve been dealing with the last couple of years.

A cyst.

In my brain.

That none of the other MRIs caught, at all.

Um, what?

Um, what?

I don’t know what else to say, so here is a picture I took of a steel pan, a conga drum and a pineapple. Enjoy it.


words and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.


My left thumb is bothering me.

It has been doing this for a while, now. I don’t remember when it started – I think it began sometime after one of the strokes, but I’m not sure which one. Or if it’s related to that at all.

If you play guitar, you may already see this as a bit of a problem. If not, let me explain it to you, and why I’m a bit upset. Just a bit, mind you.

My left hand is the hand I use to fret with. Meaning that I use this hand to press the strings down on the neck of the guitar, allowing me to play chords and such. When I play a chord on the guitar, I use my left thumb as part of the, well, I don’t remember the engineering term for it, but “clamp” works – part of the clamp that holds the strings. My left thumb fatigues after a while.

How long is a while?

It’s been getting shorter and shorter.

Yesterday when I was rehearsing with Rob, I couldn’t play through an entire song. This song, the one formerly called “The Artist”. It has really lovely jazzy chords all through it that really fit the lyrics. It is currently my favorite song to play (that I wrote, at least). I wrote it on the guitar in the picture.

Betty Brown is a Gretsch Electromatic archtop acoustic guitar. Picture taken with LG Motion camera and augmented via Shotwell program on my computer. So there.

This guitar is one that I picked up from Louisville, KY. When I was in the shop, it just called out to me, if such a thing can be believed. Yes, of course, it’s nothing but a collection of wood and metal and plastic cranked out in a factory in Korea someplace. It is just one of thousands of other guitars that rolled off the production line that day. Somebody probably put the last string on it, passed it off to the QC guy, and went to lunch. Didn’t think any more about it. It’s an inanimate object.

Doesn’t mean I don’t, well, I guess, love her.

It’s a she, of course. How could she not be? Look at those graceful curves. If you could hear her voice; clear, ringing like bells, even when someone like me with Drummer Fingers(tm) plays her. You’d know she was a she.

And, when I hold her in my arms, she reminds me of someone. Hence, the song.

Yesterday, I couldn’t even play her.

Getting old’s a bitch.

words  and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.

It’s gotten so I can recognize them on sight. Just takes a second or so.

The slight, almost imperceptible nod of the head that keeps time with the steps as they walk.

The callouses between thumb and pointer finger on the right hand; or between middle and ring fingers of the left; or the callouses on fingertips.

The tiny smile.

The look of distraction; like someone listening to ear buds, but with no wires, no mp3s, no little white plastic doo-dads sticking out of their ears.

I used to wonder what it was that made people think I was a musician. Was it the glasses, thick black plastic rims and coke-bottle lenses? The goatee? The questionable fashion choices? No, it was none of these. I did experiments, changed up the variables, strove for statistical rigor. Those things weren’t the cues.

I finally discovered it when I was in the hospital last year from the second (or third, depending on who’s counting) stroke. There was … something about one of my nurses. I asked her.

“Yes,” she replied, startled. “I play cello. How’d you know?”

“I really don’t have a clue,”  I answered. “Have you had people tell you before that you looked like a musician?”

She nodded. “I get that all the time. I’ve been trying to figure out how people can tell.”

“You, too, huh? It’s a little unnerving, isn’t it?”

“What, that people can tell something so personal about you and what makes you tick -”

“-without you even knowing what you’re doing to tip ’em off. I get that a lot, too,” I concluded.

“You know,” she began, “it’s funny, because I was about to ask you what instrument you played. Just before you asked me.”

In the world of sit-com romances and bad fiction, this would have been the beginnings of a beautiful romance. In the real world, however, this took place in the early morning before I had been bathed by strangers in the rehab wing of Tampa General. I could barely stand, I had oxygen tubes up my nose, the orderlies hadn’t given me a new gown yet. I was hardly the dashing figure of breathtaking manlitude that I normally am. Ahem.  

There is something about musicians, I suppose. Long days and nights perfecting complicated languages; contorting your body in strange ways; injuring fingers, lips, hands, chin, chest – all in the hopes of coaxing vibrations from wood and metal, skin and bone and air. Hoping that those vibrations will speak to yourself, or even someone else. There’s no logic behind it. The activity in and of itself doesn’t produce food, or generate offspring, or provide shelter. There’s a hint of madness in it.

Yet, without such madness, we would be less than human.

Graciela and Marisol.


words and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.

From 1998 to 2011

Posted: October 12, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

Today has not been so good. I could barely walk around my apartment without the aid of Sticky, the Marvelous Walking Stick(tm). My fingers seem to work just fine, though. Playing guitar isn’t as hard as it is on some days. I should have been playing a ukulele. It’s hard to be depressed when you’re playing a uke. Probably why I’m not playing it. Ahem.

One's a stick. The other one folds. Guess which is which?

Sticky and Foldy!


I read a post on FB from somebody asking me if I’d ever taught in the public schools (friend of a friend). Realized that I’ve been teaching since 1998, with a few breaks off here and there, never amounting to more than a year or so. Thus, it seems, I’ve been A Teacher. I never was much of the “stand in front of the class and lecture” person, due to the fact that I bore easy. I would dance around, do the bunny hop, practice my stand-up routines, beat on stuff, crack jokes, and just generally have a good old time. And now, now, I … can’t. I tried to go back after the first stroke. Tried to keep up with the little people. To hop around, crack jokes, be the teacher I was once. I couldn’t do it, and I think that the stress from trying to do that led me to the second stroke. I see the kids playing in the parking lot around the complex, hear them laughing and squealing (and swearing like sailors? What the fuck?) around the lake. Didn’t think I would miss the classroom so much.

Rita the reggae ukulele.

A Ukulele called Rita.


A season has ended. It’s fall, now, and I am not a teacher any more.


I don’t rightfully know what I am now.



words and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.

Bugging God

Posted: January 12, 2011 in spiritual
Tags: , , , ,

>I was a little hesitant about posting this. I don’t want to sound preachy, for starters. Secondly, it was a real experience, and it was a personal one, a “Naked Lunch” type situation.

What? You never read “Naked Lunch”? (drama)*sound of garment being rent* I have no son.(/drama)
Well, then. A bit of exposition. A naked lunch is when time freezes and everyone can see just what is on the end of everyone’s fork.
But I digress.
I was reluctant to post this, but then some things came to me:

So far, only one person has read this blog;
What’s the point of having a blog if you don’t post things on it;
I really, really gotta start letting other people see the stuff I write, if I ever want it to get better;
It’s kinda awesome to see your words appear on the screen, all professional and whatnot. Somehow, it makes what you write seem more authentic, more actual.

So, I will post this. Read it, comment on it, do your worst. Its title comes from a song by Joe Jackson. No, not that one. The other one.

Take This Knife

I just had the strangest experience.
I am still having it.
This stroke has been doing a number on me. I have shivered, I have fallen, I have twitched, I have stammered. It’s amazing what a little lack of oxygen will do to you. About three hours ago, I was so dizzy I could barely tell up from down. Ever been on the spinning teacups at Kings Island, or anyplace else they might have that “ride” (that’s more like some medieval torture device)? I was feeling like I’d been on that for hours. I staggered to my bed and passed out in the cold cold dark.
God, I asked, what the f**k?
Sometimes our prayers are inelegant.
They are more real, though.
No flowery prose, not “thee”s and “thou”s and Yoda speak, with verbs, nouns and $20 adjectives, flying about all willy nilly in some Churchical Rococo fashion.
Just, what the f**k, God? I need some help, dang-it! What’s the deal with all this?
Your heart is hard.
Yes, Lord, I know that. That’s why they put me on that Zocor or whatever-
No. Like Pharaoh. Hard like that.
Hard like a diamond. Hard like a rusty, steel I beam. Hard like a five-year-old’s head. Hard like that.
So you’re saying that this is all happening to me because…?
I’m not saying the stroke happened to you for any particular reason. I’m saying, you asked for my help, and I’m helping you out. Your heart is hard. Hardened, to put it more accurately.
(You can imagine I’m having a time with all this.)
Well, if my heart is hard like Pharaoh, what do I gotta do to not get smote, or smited, or ensmittened, or-
You won’t forgive somebody. You’ve been holding this grudge for, well, a really long time, and it’s getting kinda old. You need to forgive him.
(So, I’m thinking, Dad? nah, he’s cool. Robert? nope, we worked all that childhood crap out years ago. Victor? Well, I’m not gonna buy the dude flowers or anything, but I’m over all that.)
God, I can’t think of anybody. Are you sure about this? I mean, I know you’re God and all, but, uh, could you like, double check-
Who do you always say “I hate you” to?
Who is it that you can’t stand to look at, when you get up every morning?
When you fall behind on grading the kids, or find yourself slipping up in handling your money, or when you make, like, even the tiniest little faux pas, who is that one person YOU. JUST. WON’T. CUT A BREAK.

You can take your time answering that.
Uh, the devil?
Ha. Cute. You know who I mean. Forgive him. I forgave him, a long time ago. He’s only human, you see.
God. Seriously. I’ve done a whole lotta dirt in my life.
I’ve hurt a buncha people. They didn’t deserve it.
You’re right again. Forgive yourself anyway.
God, seriously, you just don’t know. It’s, it’s just that-
You asked them to forgive you. Somehow, they found it in their hearts to look past the hurt, somehow they found a way. You asked me. ME. Have you taken a glance at the kind of stuff I’m capable of? Planets, moons, stars, all that Elroy Jeston stuff. Molecules. Sub-atomic particles. Vibrating strings and branes that make up all of existence, all eleven dimensions of it, springing into being just coz I told it to. Honey badgers. Guess what? I forgive you. It’s your turn.
God, I don’t think I can.
Why not? Have you done something I haven’t seen or heard of before? Nope. You haven’t. And I’ve seen a lot of stuff. A lot.
I just… I know I can do better. I should be doing better. I’m a huge disappointment.
Wow. That’s pretty big talk coming from somebody that can’t even make a slime mold. Look, you’re not the only one in the world who thinks this. You all think; well, I’m so smart, and I shoulda seen that coming, or; I’ve been hurt by someone else in the past, how could I possibly have even thought to do that to another person, or; I was raised up a good Muslim/Jew/Catholic/Rastafarian or whatever. How could I have done something so awful? You can’t seem to understand that you’re a human being. You walk funny, spit when you talk, stub your toe and fart just like everybody else. Do you expect your kids at school to play “Giant Steps” on the xylophone, eight o’clock first day of school? Nope. You know they’re just learning. They’re growing. They’re gonna make mistakes. They’re gonna fall.
You fell. You asked me to forgive you. I picked you up, and I forgave you. I’ll do it again next Tuesday. You can do this. Just say it.

Chris, I forgive you. Say that.

Chris, I… I forgive you.

Do you mean it?
Uh… yeah. Yeah, I do.
Good. That’s a start.

So there.

words and pictures © Christopher Ward. All rights reserved.