lunes, 22 de diciembre de 2008

Carta de fin de año de Fred Hersch

El excelente pianista y profesor Fred Hersch ha despedido el año con una carta que, originalmente, se envió a cierto circulo personal y que despues permitió reproducir a Ethan Iverson en el blog de The Bad Plus.

Aunque es un documento de índole personal, le hace a uno reflexionar sobre muchas cosas, y le acerca al lado humano de un músico excepcional.

Espero que el 2009 sea un gran año para Fred. Se lo merece por muchos motivos, entre los que destaca la maravillosa música que nos ha dado durante años.

"Dear Friends and Family,

This has been such an extraordinary, challenging and scary year that I felt compelled to write a "year end" letter for the first time in a while. Some of you may know some of what has happened, but this is the whole story...

Around December 1st of last year I came back from an especially grueling tour of Europe with my trio -- 12 concerts, 12 cities, 14 days. The fall had been very (too) busy with concerts and touring. A highlight was a solo tour of Japan that Scott was able to come with me on -- we were treated like royalty and had a blast. But all of it began to take its toll.

When I arrived home in early December, I was dehydrated, had lost a great deal of weight and had no appetite. My internist recommended a 2-3 week break from my antiviral meds to let my system recoup. Scott and I headed out to our place in Pennsylvania for a long Christmas holiday. Scott had a break from his Masters degree program. But shortly after Christmas, I began acting very strangely -- had difficulty forming thoughts, was sleeping constantly and saying odd things. After phone consultations with my doctor and my psychiatrist, I was admitted on December 31st to St. Vincent's Hospital. For the next 10 days I was in a semi-coma, in and out of consciousness, because the virus had attacked my brain and I had full-blown AIDS dementia.

Upon my release, I spent the next 7 weeks with acute psychosis -- I was paranoid, on an emotional roller coaster, and my weight continued to drop along with my appetite. It was fortunate that Scott was able to be with me most of the time except when he was at school. All this despite getting on two new anti-viral drugs in the hospital that raised my T-cell count to 335 and rendered my viral load undetectable -- the best numbers I have had in almost 15 years.

Once I finally pulled myself together in early March, I began to recover quite well. Put on weight, was exercising, was composing music and back to playing concerts. I also ran a 5-day Professional Training Workshop for young improvising musicians at Carnegie Hall that was very stimulating.

Scott finished his degree (Masters in Public Administration with a concentration on international non-profit management) in mid-May and all seemed well.

Then in early June I became tired again and was having trouble keeping everything together. When I was taking a bath and couldn't raise my arms to get out of the bathtub, Scott rushed me to St. Vincent's. I had a dangerously low level of blood oxygen, a nasty case of pneumonia and as a result my body went into septic shock. My survival at that point was a 50-50 proposition. I was immediately intubated and spent the next 7 weeks in the ICU unconscious. During that time iI underwent dialysis, I had tracheotomy...and I developed other infections in the hospital that complicated things.

When I came to, I had no voice (the intubation had paralyzed my right vocal chord) and could not walk or swallow. All of my muscles had atrophied and I was dangerously underweight. I was kept alive by a feeding tube that pumped liquid food into my stomach. I spent 8 days in a "step down" unit to get me ready to leave the hospital. It was decided that I was too weak to go home so I spent most of August in a rehab facility on the Lower East Side. I got some basic physical therapy, learned to walk again, and continued being fed by tube (no solid food or liquids since they were concerned that I might aspirate and get pneumonia again).

Some luck was with us -- Scott was off all summer and his new job as Deputy Director of Treatment Action Group, a science-based activist organization that works worldwide advocating for HIV and TB medications and research, didn't start until the day I was discharged. (And his office is one and a half blocks from our loft!) He was amazing in how he tirelessly dealt with everything on my behalf -- monitoring the doctors and nurses, chasing down the insurance company, doing nursing duties and keeping my life going in all ways. I am a very lucky guy...

After my release around Labor Day I began a 4-day a week course of intensive physical therapy that continues to this day as well as swallow therapy. I was not supposed to swallow until I was cleared by passing a swallowing test that will make sure that food or liquid is not going into my windpipe.

All seemed well. Truth be told, in late September I was eating some soft foods and testing the waters. But in early October, I became nauseous and began vomiting what we now know to be blood and bile. I aspirated some of it and was back in the hospital with another pneumonia and a gall bladder infection. Fortunately I pulled out of this in less than a week but it was a setback in terms of my swallowing and my overall health.

I am now getting better daily -- I weigh close to 130 pounds, have good energy and am performing again. Traveling is a challenge, but doable. On November 15th I had a successful surgery that moved my paralyzed right vocal chord next to my working left vocal chord. This keeps air from escaping when I speak (I now have my voice back, though I am a long way from singing!) and makes a seal that is a safeguard against food or liquid going down the wrong way. I had another swallow test on December 15th and I passed! So I am now able to eat a limited diet which should increase over time.

So, we end this year in much better shape than last year. I have a new band (the "Pocket Orchestra") that has a live CD coming out in April. And I will play a week at the Village Vanguard in January, a good test of my recovery and my stamina. Scott loves his job and finds it challenging and a good use of his wide range of skills. I have other performances and commissions going into the New Year and hope that I can put all of this behind me.

To all of you who have supported me (and Scott) though this most unusual year, thank you! Both of us wish you nothing but peace and the best of health in 2009!

FRED HERSCH"

Dejo aquí el link al post original del blog de The Bad Blus

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1 comentario:

HARPER dijo...

Really inspiring yes...

otros días, otros discos

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