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My Favorite Albums of 2016

2016 was a both wonderfully great year and a fantastically crappy year. I celebrated my ten year wedding anniversary and also ten years at the Kansas City Art Institute. I learned a lot, both professionally and personally. Legends died. A dangerous idiot was elected president of the United States.

Regardless, music is enduring. Here is a list of my favorites from last year (screw the top ten thing, I have a lot of favorites!) Featured you will find two soundtracks that I just can’t stop listening to, two albums by one band, the final albums by two of my favorite artist who happened to end their time on Earth this past year, songs about love, songs about life, songs about songs, songs about humanity, and songs just for fun. In no particular order:

  • Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
  • Andrew Bird – Are You Serious
  • Leonard Cohen – You Want it Darker
  • David Bowie – Black Star
  • Mac Quayle – Mr. Robot OST
  • Yello – Toy
  • Bon Iver – 22, A Million
  • Deerhoof – The Magic
  • Hope Sandoval and the Warm Intentions – Until the Hunter
  • Iggy Pop – Post Pop Depression
  • Jim James – Eternally Even
  • M83 – Junk
  • Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Skeleton Tree
  • Paul Simon – Stranger to Stranger
  • Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool
  • Ramin Djawadi – Westworld OST
  • Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop – Love Letter for Fire
  • Thee Oh Sees – A Weird Exits
  • Thee Oh Sees – An Odd Entrances

Today is my one year Brainiversary!

One year ago today I went under the knife needle to have superglue injected into my brain to cut off the growth of a cluster of veins that had gotten out of control and ultimately could have killed me had it gone untreated.

Wow, that is a crazy sentence to re-read. It still feels pretty surreal. I’ve described the experience immediately following as how you might feel after a crazy frat party: I had a massive hangover (the migraines) and I had various personal body parts shaved (where they inserted the needles). At least no one drew a moustache on my face in sharpie, but that might have proven difficult considering.

Life has been pretty normal since all of that. I still get some migraines especially with pressure changes. They are under control for the most part, however. None of this would have been possible without the wonderful doctors and staff at KU Medical Center. What they are doing there truly seems like science fiction. The fact that I had brain surgery and it seemed no worse than a crazy frat party is pretty mind-blowing. Obviously, the migraines are worse than a simple hangover, but still.

My friend, the talented tattoo artist Chris Stubbs has designed this amazing sleeve for me partially in honor of my experience with the surgery:

brain_circuit_board

It’s going on my left arm and connecting up to the other tattoo on my shoulder, the Cephaskelamech. Work began on it a few weeks ago and I’ve got another appointment set up in mid April! I can’t wait to see this thing finished!

Top ten Albums of 2014

Listed in no particular order, maybe, probably.

  • St Vincent – St. Vincent
  • tUnE-yArDs – Nikki Nack
  • Sallie Ford – Slap Back
  • Deerhoof – La Isla Bonita
  • The New Basement Tapes – Lost on the River
  • Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots
  • Beck – Morning Phase
  • Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes
  • First Aid Kit – Stay Gold
  • The Pixies – Indie Cindy
  • Warpaint – Warpaint
  • Broken Bells – After The Disco
  • Tobacco – Utilma II Massage

Oh, is that more than ten? Oops! Oh well! There was seriously a LOT of good music this year. I can’t wait to hear what 2015 has in store!

One edit: I guess the Nick Cave was out last year, so I’ll sub the New Basement Tapes, which should have made the list anyway.

The Dural Arteriovenous Fistula is Gone!

It’s two days short of six months since I had brain surgery. It was a very busy Summer both at work and at home. We’ve had a lot of fun too, jumping off bridges, going to concerts, glamping with friends in the John Goodman Suite. More on that stuff in the future…

Today I had a follow up angiogram of my brain to see if anything had started to come back after the surgery. The procedure went well. My neurosurgeon came in to the recovery area (I have to lay flat on my back for two hours to make sure I don’t rip anything open) to chat with us and told us that I am cured! There is no evidence of any part of the fistula recurring. He said that the procedure is so new that they don’t really know what to tell patients about long term follow up. Obviously if I start experiencing similar symptoms in the future, I’ll know what to do, but sometimes there simply aren’t any symptoms. He said that he would be comfortable not doing any follow up, but if I wanted to we could do another scan in a year. I’m leaning towards doing another scan, just for peace of mind and it might help them to know what to expect in other cases, but I haven’t decided for sure yet.

I told the neurosurgeon that I couldn’t express how grateful I am and how lucky I feel. It’s simply amazing to me that this kind of procedure is something that exists, and that I live within a couple miles of one of the few doctors that is performing it right now. The doctors, nurses, and staff are some of the best people in the world. They went out of their way to make me feel as comfortable and confident as possible. And Dr. Koji Ebersole is a rock star!

Unfortunately, I am still dealing with the headaches. I was on a drug that was helping, but the side effects are pretty drastic and I am prone to all of them. I’ve spent the last two weeks weaning myself off that drug and I’m hoping to start a new one soon. In the meantime, they have returned in full force. The main side effect of the new drug is that it can make food and drink taste funny, therefore people tend to lose 5-10 pounds – I think I’m okay with that, at least for a while. I’m sure the new drug will work and I’ll be feeling good again in short order, but this last two weeks of getting off the old one has not been fun. I hate to end this post on a bad note, so I’ll say it again:

I’M CURED!

Lucy the Neurotic Dog

The night before I went back to work after six weeks of recovery, Lucy woke us up pacing and panting. No matter how much we pled with her she would not settle down. I finally got up and took her out at 2:00 AM. We came back in and she settled down a little bit, but she was still acting funny.

The next morning I felt okay, no headache, if a little tired. I went to work intending to work a full day. I did okay until about 2:30 when I finally succumbed to a headache that had brewing all day. I came home and Lucy was acting even weirder. She was panting, pacing, and walking in circles; she seemed a little off balance. I finally called the vet and they were able to get her i right away. The doctor gave her a clean bill of health, she’s in great shape! I didn’t opt for any blood tests, I figured if she didn’t settle down within a couple of days, I’d bring her back.

I’m glad I took her to the vet, better safe than sorry, but since she was in fine shape, the only alternative was that she was having doggy panic attacks. She’d gotten used to me being around all the time and somehow she knew that I was going back to work the next day. I knew we had a neurotic dog; I didn’t realize it was quite that bad. She’s doing much better today; she knows that I will be coming back. It helps that Maura is going to be around more now that school’s out too. It makes me wonder if Luna is tormenting her when we’re not here!

IMG 7154

I came home early again today with a stabby headache. I know everyone told me that I should take it slow, start back with a week of half days, but I was really hoping I’d just be fixed and that’s it. The new drugs are helping, but I’m also trying to be a lot more active than I’ve been in almost two months. It seems that I’m going to have to ease back into reality.

Feeling good again!

The new drug from the neurologist seems to be working! I haven’t had a headache all day – even the nagging little background headache that’s tolerable but annoying! I’m still pretty tired, but the neurologist said that that side effect would fade in a few days. I definitely have a much better understanding for what it’s like to not be a morning person.

I’m hoping to get back to work next week – I’m still waiting on word from my doctor. I’m amazed at how good I feel – living with that kind of pain for that long and then not feeling it all of a sudden. I’m listening to music again! I’m so freakin’ happy!!

Neurologist

I just met with the neurologist. I passed all of her neuro-tests with flying colors, which means there is no new reason for the headaches. They are simply a result of my brain dealing with the embolization. As she put it “Your brain is mad at you.” She prescribed some painkillers for when it’s really bad and something else that should help with the pain long term. We’ll spend a week or two figuring out the proper dosage of the new drug.

I am, of course having another bad headache now after going to the doctor and then the pharmacy. Every time I try to be even a little more active, I get these headaches – it’s beyond frustrating. She said it could take a few days for the new drug to really start helping. She generally prefers to have patients start it on a Friday night so they have the weekend to get used to it. Since I’m not working right now, I can start it tonight.

The good news is, I should be feeling somewhat normal again soon!