All posts by Acoustic Ross

My Heart and the Real World

On March 11, 2018, I had what we can call my first Cardiac Event.

Specifically, around 9am, while opening shutters to look out the kitchen window, I suddenly needed, then received, my first automatic shock from the little defibrillator that lives in my chest.

(note to self – write children’s book: The Little Defibrillator That Lives in My Chest)

About 2 ½ years earlier, I had been diagnosed with severe dilated cardiomyopathy, a fancy name for a certain type of heart failure. My left ventricle had been underperforming, pumping less blood than it should be. When that happens, the left ventricle begins to realize it’s weakened and underperforming, and it tries to compensate by growing larger and thicker. Which makes it perform worse. Which makes it grow larger and thicker. Which makes it perform worse.

You see where this becomes an issue.

By the time we caught it, this had been going on for perhaps 2 years, perhaps longer – it’s hard to tell. The cause may be a virus, may be hereditary, may be neither – it’s hard to tell. The answers to Why and For How Long have never really been important to me – I have it, that’s pretty much the part that matters.

Since my diagnosis, I’ve been on medications to lighten the load on my heart, and in December of 2015 I was implanted with an Automated Implantable Cardioverter/Defibrillator (AICD). It has faithfully resided near my left collarbone ever since, monitoring and tracking my heart’s behavior and keeping stats, uploading data to be analyzed by the team at my cardiac rhythm specialist’s office, waiting for a time when my heart rate would drop extremely low or rise extremely high, when it would kick in with a jolt to reset my heart’s rhythm.

I’m typing this because that’s exactly what happened on March 11.

I stepped to the window to open the shutters, felt my heart suddenly start racing, felt a little lightheaded, felt VERY lightheaded, and had time to briefly think I might be about to lose my balance or pass out.

The next thing I remember is waking up in a pile on the floor.

Gloria was standing nearby when it happened, including the part where I apparently reacted verbally to the shock, with an “oh!” that I don’t remember. She saw me go to the floor in medium-slow motion, first slowly leaning back onto a cabinet and slowly lowering toward the wall beside, until I just dropped the last few feet. My eyes were open the whole time, but I wasn’t consciously experiencing any of it.

I woke up quickly after hitting the floor. Gloria called 911, and within about 2 minutes the EMTs were in the house checking me out. We told them what we each saw and experienced, and our theory that I’d perhaps gotten a defibrillation. My chest didn’t hurt, which I’d expected, and I never felt the shock, but the circumstantial evidence seemed pretty conclusive.

My blood pressure was pretty high (for me) when they first checked it, and I was sweating buckets, but both soon started to ease up. After a quick EKG, I changed into “leaving the house” pants and walked, with help, to the ambulance. Within 30 minutes of opening the shutters, I was in my own room at the ER.

The ER tag teams – I saw no less than 10 different nurses, doctors and specialists – did lots of tests and blood work, another EKG, an x-ray, and a technician came in to interrogate my defibrillator.

(note to self – write industrial/metal song: Interrogate My Defibrillator)

Sure enough, just before the defibrillator zapped me, my heart rate – normally around 75ish bpm – spiked up to 261. The defibrillator noticed, and administered a shock to reset it, and it started beating normally again.

In other words, The Little Defibrillator That Lives in My Chest did exactly what it’s supposed to do.

I mentioned to the technician that, a couple of times in the last 6 months or so, I’d felt a very brief similar heart-racing feeling, so brief I didn’t think anything of it at the time. He looked at the data and was quickly able to tell me the exact dates – one in October, one in December – right there in the readout.

The Little Defibrillator That Lives in My Chest has a good memory.

I spent about 4 hours in the ER, returned home by dinnertime, and took a few days off work. The ER doctor added a new medication to my daily routine, one that’s supposed to help keep my heart from getting into that state again. A few days later, I had an in-person checkup at my cardiac rhythm specialist’s office, and a few days later got my new ‘restrictions’ list: no driving for 6 months (rideshare companies, prepare to love me), and no air travel for 2 months.

Because I asked about air travel, they were careful to clarify that I will never be permitted to fly a plane myself.

(note to self: change plans regarding flight school in no way whatsoever)

As I type, it’s been almost 2 weeks since that Sunday morning, and I’m feeling good. Although it did take a couple days until I was comfortable opening those particular shutters again.

My energy for the day-to-day stuff is back, I’ve been cleared to return to the gym (which I needed to do anyway), and the only real side effect of the new medicine is very dry hands. Gloria introduced me to First Aid Beauty brand Ultra Repair Cream, available from your local Sephora, which turns out to be wonderful for that.

I haven’t had another shock, nor have I felt my heart flip out like that again. And in a few more weeks, I’ll be walking once again in the 2018 Heart Walk for the American Heart Association. If you’d like to chip in for a great cause, you can do so here:

http://www2.heart.org/goto/acousticross

As we may have previously discussed, I’ve been working on a one-man “talking and singing” show & album about these cardiac adventures of mine. It’s a song or two away from having all of its music written, leaving the visuals and some storytelling bits left to finish. The show is coming together, and I’m hoping that by the end of 2018, it will be ready for public consumption.

This month that show gained some new material.

More importantly, it did not gain an ending.

– RmG3      3/26/18

Show Alert!

UPCOMING SHOW

Coming April 15:
Mr. Crispy Goes To Washington

A benefit show to help Mr. Crispy get to Washington DC for the Scottish Rite Web-A-Thon.

Featuring Kali’s Enferno, comedian Dan Fritschie,
magician Matt Quinn, the Crispy Family Carnival and me!

Saturday April 15th @ 10pm – Fur Shop, 520 E. 3rd Street, Tulsa OK.

Sideshow, music, comedy, fire and more! Free Admission, Donations Appreciated.

Welcome to the New AcousticRoss.com


Welcome to the new Acoustic Ross dot (as they say) com!

If this seems like a pretty big change, it is. The old site was nothing but raw HTML code – I wasn’t even using CSS – as best I could teach myself to write, and after 14 years of that it was time to move to something easier to maintain and update.

So this is that. We’ve made the move to a WordPress site now, and as with any move, first you move in, then you unpack, and it’s that second part we’re working on now here at Acoustic Ross Central.

It’s gonna take a while. But everything’s on its way back, with a lot of new stuff coming along as well.

There are currently THREE albums in the works around here, and we’ve recently relaunched our sister site, newsfromaroundthebend.com – home of the zine I started in 1991, which recently ended a decade-long hiatus.

TL, DR: Welcome. Things are happening. Stay tuned.

– R

My Heart May Or May Not Go On.

(originally posted 1/4/2016)

If you’ll pardon me being not all that funny for a minute, I’ve got a fairly major update.

I wasn’t around here much last year. I haven’t been around here much the last few years. I did a handful of shows and mostly was kind of invisible in 2015.

There are some reasons.

2014 took my Dad.
2015 took my 17-year-old cat Groucho.
Then 2015 tried to take me too.

I spent most of the year living with a life-threatening heart condition, which I had for months before I knew what it was. I still have it, under tighter control now, and things have been moving in a positive direction for some time.

I’ve been quiet about it online – some people know a little, some know a lot, most haven’t heard much, so I wanted to put some words on paper/web. I’m not asking for positive vibes, thoughtsandprayers, or anything else, although they’re appreciated, just posting this out of a desire to share information.

I’ll be back on some stages and in some recording formats soon. Big plans for the next few years – hoping they’re a bit kinder than their recent predecessors. I plan to find out first-hand.

(cue “The More You Know” PSA music, then click here to read the whole story)

The Self-Improvement of Acoustic Ross

THE SELF-IMPROVEMENT OF ACOUSTIC ROSS
Downloadable Mix Tape. Released December 2014.

Self-Improvement

I made you a little mixtape for your December holiday of choice. Fifteen songs of various vintage, mostly remixed and remastered.

Yes, the title is another Twilight Zone reference.

Stream for free, or pay-what-you-like starting at less than 50 cents per song, exclusively from Bandcamp:

 

The Anarchist Fakebook

THE ANARCHIST FAKEBOOK
CD. Released July 2008.

The Anarchist Fakebook

By a landslide, the best-sounding Acoustic Ross release to date. It was a tedious process pulling this thing together but the album is the better for it. I’d been trying to get this thing off the ground since the EP came out four years earlier, and somehow finally managed to pull it off.

Recorded at home in the spring and summer of 2008, through entirely different (and entirely superior) equipment than the previous albums. Looking back at the old catalog, you may recognize a couple titles, but these are all-new recordings. This is also the first Acoustic Ross album to actually feature guest musicians. See below for some links to lots more info about this one.

Tracklist:
history lesson – part iii
misanthropic love song #95
pushin’ 40 mid-crisis-life blues
swept down the plain
+3 sword of protection
*blushes*
ugly american
48 days adrift
rough weekend
the anarchist fakebook
ruby
without
the r.i.a.a. took my baby away
life imitates life
fault country
+ 6 super-secret bonus tracks

All songs by Acoustic Ross.

For more, check out the Merch and Lyrics pages.

The 918 UFN EP

The 918 UFN EP
CD. Released 4/17/04.

The 918 UFN EP

This one’s chock full of great stuff. I had a trio of specialty tracks from late 2002 / early 2003 sitting around:

  • “Just the Thing” — my entry for the duct tape club contest I didn’t win
  • the “Brodsky Megamix” — which I arranged and learned for a single performance at Adam Brodsky’s “Hookers, Hicks and Heebs” CD release party, a gig that launched an East Coast mini-tour
  • “Talkin’ Don’t Pick on the Big Guy Blues” — also written for a single performance, this time at a January ’03 Elvis Birthday Tribute edition of Tom Skinner’s Wednesday Night Science Project

Then I wrote some other new stuff I liked a lot and decided not to wait until I had a full-length album ready. As a result, this short EP runs only 7 minutes shorter than the last full-length CD.

You were expecting me to start doing things that made sense?

“Swept Down the Plain” was intended to be a preview of the next full-length, which I intended to prep and release a year or so after this EP came out. A fleshed-out version of that audience favorite did, in fact, grace the next full-length – when it came out four years later.

With the exception of the archival bonus track “Ceiling Light”, these are all NEW recordings from late 2003 / early 2004 during stolen moments between bouts of roof work.

Don’t get me started about the roof.

 

Scene Selection:
swept down the plain
talkin’ don’t pick on the big guy blues
just the thing
mean-spirited chorus
bad night in boise
brodsky megamix

Bonus Features:
talkin’ don’t pick on the big guy blues (with director’s commentary)
just the thing (with director’s commentary)
brodsky megamix (with director’s commentary)

Archival Footage:
ceiling light (December 1995)

Plus Hidden Bonus Features!

All songs by Ross, except the Brodsky Megamix, which is about 95% Adam Brodsky and 5% Ross.

For more, check out the Merch and Lyrics pages.

News From Around the Bend

NEWS FROM AROUND THE BEND
CD. Released March 2002.

News From Around the Bend

The first ‘official’ Acoustic Ross release, and the first time I wasn’t making all the copies myself at home (although that IS how I did the packaging). Released shortly before the word ‘Acoustic’ became a permanent addition (the second pressing includes the Acoustic Ross moniker).

Recorded at home in early 2002. A few of these tracks appeared on earlier releases — several of them on the Where Is Everybody? cassette — but these are all brand-new ‘definitive’ recordings. I can still listen to this without (much) physical pain, which puts it WAY ahead of its predecessors.

Tracklist:
over you now
83 ribbons
idiot
princess from saturn
nothing ever happens
don’t get me wrong
pieces of me
tribute album
ed’s secret identity
suitcase campus
souvenirs
time for one more
+ unlisted hidden bonus tracks

All songs by Acoustic Ross.
If you look closely, you might just find the first arrangement of the infamous Medley hanging around this place.

For more, check out the Merch and Lyrics pages.

Swept Down the Plain

SWEPT DOWN THE PLAIN
© 2004 Acoustic Ross
definitive version appears on The Anarchist Fakebook

I came here from a land up north of the line
It looks like I might stick around this time
If you can get past my accent and this loud acoustic din
It’s a story about a guy not exactly fitting in

Where I grew up, we never had tornadoes,
but there was a basement in every house in town
Now I live in Oklahoma, where it’s the other way around
Well I don’t know which one is worse
But I do know ‘you all’ is two separate words

I’m a yankee, just a yankee
still a yankee, but I’m willing to learn

I’ve been kicking around this scene for six long years
All I found was cockfighting, Garth, and 3.2 beer
It could be worse – this could be Alabama
And I’m finally getting used to saying “Prague” and “Miami”

So it’s finally time to fish or get off the pot
I meet her at a show, she says ‘you’re cool’, I say ‘you’re hot’
And I see it’s time I stopped changing channels
I wanna be her knight in shining flannel

I’m a yankee, just a yankee
still a yankee, but I’m willing to learn

I’m a yankee, once a yankee
always a yankee, but I’m willing to learn

Just when I thought I should cut loose and head on back
She touched my chest and whispered, ‘where you been at?’
I might could git along just like a little doggie
But now I’m falling for this Okie from some town a little bit east from here

From a turnpike twisting through this native nation
I’m finally fixing to fix in on this fixation
Listening to that rockin’ Rogers radio station
Hey, is it me, or is “sooner” slang for premature ejaculation?

I’m a yankee, just a yankee
still a yankee, but I’m willing to learn

I’m a yankee, once a yankee
always a yankee, but I’m willing to learn

I’m a yankee, born a yankee
gonna die a yankee, but I’m willing to learn