Sadly while excitedly putting together all to begin releasing & promoting my first full
length solo project-featuring Bakithi Kumalo, June Millington plus a few special surprise guests AND while Broadcasting my Rhythm Games Health Rhythms programs to Youth experiencing homelessness- a previously unknown birth defect came to light in my body & is causing me to now need my aortic heart valve replaced.
The rest of my heart is strong & my arteries are clear. It's just this valve.
The doctors say I'm asymptomatic (tho more symptoms have appeared recently. ) We caught it when red flags came up on a routine echocardiogram.
You can hear the shortness of breath in my voice. Hence why I am writing you now.
This was of course totally unexpected and is scary AF.
Yet I'm grateful we caught it before more terrible things happened.
It would have & soon.
Fortunately, with a history of heart disease in my family, I have been under cardiac care for many years. (Nothing wrong-just checking...)
And yet in spite of this attention… things went south. ( Of course, Covid interrupted testing for 2+yrs...)
It caught all of us out of the blue.
The birth defect being the X factor.
Knowing I am fairly healthy and strong otherwise eases my mind greatly yet I am up against a unique obstacle here with a few difficult aspects.
Beyond the total shock of it all...
There is the Loss of all
Income I may have created since Covid (as the doctors do not want me doing anything that gets my heart pumping...exertion. I have already had to cancel most gigs & push back most programs.)
Plus the new reality includes that I'm in need of housing in Pittsburgh that accommodates all of my crazy health needs now over the next 6-7 mo period starting now.
(Unfortunately, my housemate has fallen severely ill, so it is not a place for me to be anymore. The house & our agreement was never set up that way.)
I've been commuting between the school/ studio I have worked with since their early days (IMA.ORG) & was planning on heading west to begin selling off more drums & gear later this fall.)
With the scheduling of procedures & appts. being tricky due to an industry understaffed due to Covid.... it's taking longer than I anticipated.
Plus the birth defect means a 2nd opinion is def needed ...
Mainly about the "how".
For sure, this must be done. Deciding how and when are all that's left to do.✨♥️
I am hoping it relieves a number of problems that have been with me forever, it seems. And others that I believe never were problems. Now I know why.
After assessing needs & running numbers-the easiest and most cost-effective way for all, including me, my body, the needs of my present lifestyle, family & friends (needed helpers) is to get an "extended stay (handicapped room.) " for 3-4 months in the city of Pittsburgh where I do have insurance and there is a strong health team of surgeons there who have experienced handling this kind of unique situation.
I may need to cover 6-8 months depending on the procedure they decide is best and the recuperation process.
Tho mostly asymptomatic, I have recently started experiencing more symptoms.
I must go easier my cardiologist says until we can move this along. I am moving into an ‘extended stay’ for two weeks until my sublet opens up. This way I will have all I need at my fingertips in a cool environment with very little physical effort on my part.
(When it rains it pours. The AC in my van broke down on the first day of this heat wave. Everybody is booked for over two weeks. That money needed to fix is not included yet of course needed. Thank you for your support & consideration. AC is critical to my health during this time before surgery.)
I am very very grateful to say that I have been able to secure a wonderful & accommodating & sublet starting in two weeks through the middle of October on the east side of town which is where my storage and doctors are located.
I will be at an ‘extended stay’ for two weeks in order to try to get as much done as possible , complete all doctor appointments and procedures to date, and keep my health progressing upward in AC.
The humidity dramatically makes it more difficult for me to breathe.
Yet I must still make gentle efforts to do light strength training (sandbags) & drop a few more pounds.(lost approx 25 lbs since pandemic!) Eating steamed broccoli is my joint! ;)
All of this will help me get through the surgery and rehabilitation easier.
And of course I'm trying to keep my business together as much as possible before I am completely down for 3-4 mo.
Wanna buy a drum?
I'm sellin'! Got lots too!
(3) Gorgeous hand carved djembes with cannabis leafs;
(2) Hand carved ashikos ( plain);
(1) Hand carved Djembe(original design)
$250 ea. /no shipping.
(2) drums for $470
(3) drums $695
All stored in Pittsburgh PA.
More videos coming soon. Check my FB Page.
I also have Louson Cajon Tabs of all sorts. See something on their website?
Not into cajons ...Handpans are your thing?
Ask me about it. I can get one of these beautiful instruments & may be able to save you a couple bucks.
It would really appreciate it.
Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
(To friends & family offering alternative housing, I greatly appreciate your genuine offering & loving kindness. Thank you for your love.
This is scary AF & is going to take everything I have to give to recuperate fully and quickly.
I hope you understand.
And I hope you all will visit.♥️)
Again, We have not yet determined how to proceed as this defect poses some different situations. One method will have a dramatically longer & more challenging recovery time. We'll see. The next round of tests will tell us much more.
Yet It is very probable I will not be able to work full on for 4 to 6 months.
Fortunately health insurance is mostly in place tho specialists due to the nature of the defect and treatment options may need your support too.
My bills are minimal.
I've learned how to pull my belt in hard. And I know how to pull myself up from my bootstraps.
Storage on both coasts is my largest individual cost.
(Want to cover just that ?- email me.
This "GO FUND ME" will be open-ended for now. My first goal is $30k and covers nearly 7.5 months of expenses at current prices (including GoFundMe Fees) Plus, undergoing open heart surgery to correct the problem caused by this birth defect.
I sincerely appreciate each one of your considerations, thoughts & offerings to help in whatever way you can.
I know things are tough all over. I've been pulling up my bootstraps for a while now tho clearly it's now time I reach out for help as this is no joke & there is no time to prepare.
It's very humbling to have something like this come up and stop you cold & literally be a matter of life & death. Asking for help is not easy.
"Let goodness in. Let people help." This is what came to me today in my meditation. So I am asking.
If I had a house to draw upon or a credit card to draw upon I would. Please know I do not and I appreciate every offering of love.
Thank you. Please give when you can & please share. Thanks to all of my friends who have already jumped in to help. I love you all.
More soon. Stay tuned. I am determined to overcome this challenge and continue spreading joy, wellness, & happiness through group drumming.
And Thank you from the bottom of my bottomless heart.
Love, Love, Love...✨♥️
ITEMIZED BUDGET (7/24-10/19)
GoFundMe Fees: approx $1500 approx?
(Break it down & it looks like this):
*TOTAL HOUSING & BILLS(pre surgery)
-Sublet:$1500 (3 mo.)
$2700/TOTAL (13+ wks)//
JB BIZ BILLS*:
TOTAL HOUSING & BILLS (SURGERY): 18k!!!
$1500 x4mo Bills=6k!
All on One floor
Stove top fridge ; microwave
Laundry on site
HouseCleaning and new sheets etc.
Dollies (for bringing some work /studio in when able)
•*JB BIZ BILLS:($1500 approx)
•Storage (of all gear) on both coasts:
AAA insurance /$100/mo
Premium $12$/ mo
$1500 TOTAL approx
Gas costs will be minimal as doctor appts will be the thrust of my daily outings & most are on the same side of town.