Musashi Mix Inq

Palliativity 198: vampire blues

Posted on June 12, 2013

RFA PART II - Recovery Journal

Although this wasn't my first time through radio frequency ablation, the recovery experience has been quite different. My first time back in February was for the left side of my cervical spine which was far more damaged. Following the procedure, my pain levels went wild and it was a bit rough even by my standards. Chronic pain typically flows with agonizing slowness in terms of changing location and intensity and the time-scale is in weeks. This was more like a lightning storm; sharp, erratic and unpredictable and changing by the hour.

Burning out the nerves was not a light decision. The healing process isn't supposed to be easy nor smooth. My body is trying to cope with traumatic damage and there is no way to explain to it that this is all part of a planFollowing all this, the relief I gained after the first week was beyond all expectations.


Last week, I had RFA done on my right side in order to finish the job. The night before the procedure, I was spiking level 8 pain. Even with vicodin and lidocaine I slept about 2 hours total, watching the sun rise on yet another step in this journey. On Wednesday morning I got to the doctors office early, and they took me to twilight.

  1. Wednesday: pain level 3. Right side injection site sore. Meds feel good.
  2. Thursday: pain level 5. Left side cramps up. Trauma sustained but nerves are confused.
  3. Friday: pain level 6. Left side gets worse. Right side heals up.
  4. Saturday: pain level 5. Left stops, right side pain returns.
  5. Sunday: pain level 7. Right side cramping near scapula. Feels like a burning knife in my back. Nausea begins. Lots of meds and drinking. Sleep one hour that night.
  6. Monday: pain level 4. Stabbing turns to stiffness on right. Nausea less by evening.
  7. Tuesday: pain level 3. Rehab and massage. Left side cramping. Nausea gone.
  8. Wednesday: pain level 2. Stiff on both sides. Had my first night's sleep in bed versus the easy chair since Sunday.

A strange ride indeed and it's not quite over yet. They burned a few pain nerves in my spine and the whole system went crazy again. Having quit taking neuropathics and muscle relaxants, my body is still struggling to find an equilibrium between phantom pain and accepting the gentle and long-deserved void that remains… also known as just plain awesomeness. I've had to remember the strength and tricks that held me together under this pain for so long. A week or so of crazy aside, I know that soon I'll be that much closer to who I am supposed to be.


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Palliativity 197: the fandome menace

Posted on June 6, 2013

Fan-art is a strange beast. It's a wonderfully freeing experience to take ownership of a story, style or character that you love but did not entirely create. The way that you can instantly connect with and incite thousands of fellow followers of any given genre or franchise feels all too much like chasing dragons. My most successful pieces (in terms of views/sales) have been my fan art by epic magnitudes and have even gotten me published alongside some of my heroes.

Return to Godswood

Prints on Society6

At the same time, I've never wanted to get pigeon-holed as many successful artists often do. I have no interest in being the world's most awesome cover band. Me First and the Gimme Gimmes will forever hold that crown. The important thing to remember when creating fan art is to project your own vision and style of another world as if it is your own into each and every detail. That way, you never lose sight of what it truly means to be a fan.

As I have said time and again:

If you want fans, make fan art.


Palliativity 196: symmetry

Posted on May 30, 2013

MRI of my neck from the left side

For years, my past doctors thought that I had high blood-pressure. Really, I was just frustrated that although there I sat in their exam rooms again and again with pictures of my insides on the wall, they could never help me.

• • •

Before having Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA) back in February, my chronic pain condition was isolated to the left side of my neck. Being right handed was definitely lucky: most of the time my left arm had to remain not only motionless, but fully supported for as much time throughout the day to limit my baseline pain level.

Starting from the week following RFA on my left side, the right side of my neck started to experience similar pain. I have to admit, I was freaked. It took a giant act of will and a very supportive partner to stop me from having a panic attack.

Why this new pain? I felt cursed. After a couple days, the right side pain subsided. Crisis averted. Despite this initial scare, my outlook on life has forever changed. Good things happen and they can even happen to me.

Over the past few months, I continued to have episodes of what I came to think of as sympathetic pain. The new but familiar experience would linger for a couple of days at a time, and then just as suddenly go away. During this time I was able to ween myself off all of my various daily meds for pain management and went from two vicodin every day just to sleep at night down to half a pill every two weeks or so as needed.

Last week, I went back to my pain specialist to take a closer look. He appreciated that I had taken the time to really explore this new pain, working thru it with rehab and other types of pain management. Apparently it is common for Cervical Facet Syndrome to be symmetrical, generally one side worse than the other. Turns out that my left side was so severe that it wan't until after RFA that my body could handle even sensing that anything else was wrong.

Next Wednesday I'm having RFA on the right side. Now my blood pressure spikes in the doctor's office because I'm happy to be there.



Filed under: Blog, Pain 2 Comments

Palliativity 194: Space Oddity

Posted on May 14, 2013

It occurred to me with a jolt just after Col. Chris Hardfield touched-down Monday evening:

This is our generation's Moon Landing.

Cold War glam-rock blasted into the new Millennia over the Interwebs.

The stars look very different today…

I'm going to miss him looking down on us all from his big lab in the sky.

Many safe returns.


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Palliativity 192: sandcastles in the tide

Posted on May 2, 2013

This past weekend has been logged as a major life event for a number of reasons.

Transcendental experiences, family, reuniting with friends and
quite a few realizations that will require some time to sort out.

Sunday morning, my partner and I reunited with one of our best friends after a much deserved night of shenanigans. She is about to embark on a new journey with her exciting project, Queerituality. Check it out. She'd going to change the world.

The cafe we brunched at happened to be where I showed in my very first art opening at age 7. Fitting bookends indeed. We played catch-up in the best way, skipping all the incidentals and jumping right into the big life questions. French toast can bring out the best in people who are already awesome.

I hadn't yet told her about my life changing RFA procedure. Her partner also suffers from a chronic illness and the two of them have been supportive in a way that others can't. In light of her new project, we talked about creating queer safe-space where we are free to be ourselves together. As the discussion evolved, we recognized something we also share: medical safe-space. No judgement or fear. Not sympathy; just earnest listening and empathy. I became consciously aware thru our conversation that I had actually undergone a spiritual awakening after my procedure. Without the pain, there remains only the thinnest vail between me and the world around me. I feel connected in ways I was never free to feel before.

In light of the spoon theory, I hadn't really thought about the unspoken other half of the metaphorical world-view. If I only have so much energy to expend on a certain project, be it an art opening or making coffee in the morning, I held myself to the unvoiced standard that whatever I do ought to be perfect. I felt  like I was constantly building castles in the sand while the tide was slowly creeping in. I did not have the resources to gather and build out of better material and the indomitable march of time was the enemy. My only allies were the here and now. Between waves of pain, pills, injections and insomnia, I could only do so much. If whatever I was working on fell thru, rage and depression would hit me hard in the chest. This could be set off by something as simple and small as forgetting to buy something at the grocery store or lossing the save-state on an art piece.

Post procedure, I am so much happier and more able to live and accomplish and even fail. I'm learning that I can relish in spontaneity and that my carriage doesn't have to turn into a pumpkin at midnight. And even if it does, I know that I can pick myself up, and try again without some miraculous act of will nor having to pay the price in pain afterwards - for both myself and my loved ones. I can now walk in the world with care and ease, redirecting my jedi levels of concentration from denying my chronic pain into some greater purpose of conquest, adventure and grand ambitions. I now have the strength and focus to not only change my own perspective and perceptions, but to truly change the world.

I am however essentially myself; if anything, more so than at any other time in my life.

I am recognizing, as my friend pointed out over coffee, that I am mangled in a way that fits my world.




[ 4.26 — 6.1.2013 ]

Filed under: Art, Belief, Blog, Pain, Q, show No Comments

Palliativity 191: counting to none

Posted on April 25, 2013

Tomorrow we take it to the next level.

The Apocalypto Nouveau show at Firecat Projects has been in the works since March of 2011.

I can't believe it is finally here.

There are many reasons to be thankful:

For those who have believed in me.

For those who inspire me.

For those who have challenged me.

For my beloved friends, family and ancestors.


In the wake of a century beyond words;

desert prisons

silent suffering

atomic bombs


and crippling chronic pain,

I am here to deliver this message:

My turn.



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