Posts Tagged ‘sickness’

Airborne Toxic Event tattooBy Melissa

I remember the first time I heard “Sometime Around Midnight.” I was driving home from Denver and I could barely make out the song on my cheap car radio, but I was instantly hooked. Years later, I still get chills when that song, or any Airborne song, comes on the radio. All their CDs are preloaded in my car and the majority of my time I am listening to them. In fact, I am listening to them right now.

I have been to nine shows all over Colorado since 2009 and I have had the privilege of meeting all the band members when they first started out. I remember thinking they were the most down to earth rock stars I have ever met. In fact, when my dad was getting a picture with Anna she kept asking everyone if they had seen her cousin, like we all knew him. I came out of the hall to get a poster from the fan table and there were Noah and Steven! They took the time to talk to me before the show, and I always try to stay after to talk to Mikel and Anna.

Over the years, our beloved TATE has grown into such an amazing powerhouse of music. I have listened to each song and almost always am able to pick out a verse that I can relate to. In fact, I have a very unique tattoo on my back that shares lyrics from both “All I Ever Wanted” and “The Graveyard Near The House.” But I am writing this not to relate to a certain lyric, but to express how The Airborne Toxic Event has helped me through the hardest three months of my life.

The last three months I have been living in my own personal hell. I have been suffering from an unknown disease and doctors are lost in trying to diagnose me. I have become a sheltered form of myself, afraid to be around people and socialize in public places. I have lost a significant amount of weight and in three months I have been sent to the emergency room twice. It is hard at times, but I try to remain hopeful that soon we will figure out what is causing my symptoms and will find a cure…

One might ask, “Well that’s terrible, but how does it relate to The Airborne Toxic Event?” Well… in a very large way. First, I am reminded of Mikel’s personal struggles he has dealt with all his life. He doesn’t complain about his health issues, or the loss of family members; he uses that to make him stronger. For this, I look up to him as a role model on how I should live my life with this unknown disease.

The main reason that The Airborne Toxic Event has helped me occurred on a Thursday night in Denver at the Ogden Theater with my husband and all the friends I have made from shows over the years. There is something so meaningful in going to a concert and talking to others who have sang and danced and jumped alongside you at other shows. Before the show began, we traded stories of our meetings with band mates, showed off tattoos and tried to see what songs will be played.

The show on November 6th changed my outlook on my unresolved health issues. For a few hours I was able to forget all that has plagued me and I just danced, sang, cried (when they played “Duet” and “A Letter To Georgia”… How could you not!) and was overjoyed when they played “This Losing,” which a fun fact is that I walked down the aisle at my wedding to the orchestra solo from the All I Ever Wanted DVD. That was a very special moment for my husband and me. I was more myself that night then I has been in the last three months, and that is what TATE does. They bring this passion, energy and emotion to their shows that is unmatched. As I stated previously, I have been to nine shows, and I’ll go to ninety more if I have the chance. There is something so real about their performance.

Since that night, I have had a different outlook on my health. I no longer let my sickness control me. If I start to get sad or alone, I listen to a song from their amazing collection and I reminisce back to that night and remember how I felt and how important that feeling is.

Thank you, TATE, for making such a difference in my life. They play these shows night after night not because they have to, but because they are passionate for what they do. They show that passion with every show and for this I am truly grateful. They deserve every bit of success they have earned and more. I will always see them when they come to Colorado to experience pure magic and passion and will buy every record they create.

TATE fan MelissaMelissa lives in Colorado Springs, CO. When she’s not listening to TATE she works for Wounded Warrior Project. She’s a huge Airborne Toxic Event fan… obviously!

Photo by Mikel Jollett, New Orleans, February 2014. Taken with Angela's husband's phone.

Photo by Mikel Jollett, New Orleans, February 2014. Taken with Angela’s husband’s phone.

By Angela

Editor’s Note: This post is a follow-up to Angela’s previous post, I Lost My Innocence Today, from December 2013 – the most widely read post in the history of This Is Nowhere.

As some of you avid readers of This Is Nowhere know, I wrote a story titled “I Lost My Innocence Today” last December, about being diagnosed with Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when I was 11 weeks pregnant. I was not able to carry the baby to term, because my disease was so aggressive there was no time to wait. I had to start chemotherapy right away.

It’s been a long and ugly road, and I can honestly say that my family and I have most definitely been through “Hell and Back.” As of last week though, I found out that I am cancer free and in REMISSION!! My scans came back all clear, and I will have to go in every 3 months this first year for more scans, but at least no more chemotherapy.

These last 6 months have really hard on me both physically and mentally. I never imagined I would get cancer at 38 years old. I was in denial for so long, because grandparents get cancer; not healthy young adults. I was wrong. I was a runner, eat fairly healthy, mainly drink green tea and water, never smoked, but yet I have cancer. It was definitely unexpected and tragic.

Even though I am now technically in remission, I still cry, and some days have to force myself out of bed. My husband has been my rock. He has been there for me through this storm. “The Storm” is the perfect song for him. Where Mikel talks about just barely getting by some days, then a person comes to you and says that they were there all along – that’s my husband Ryan. He’s been there all along, even though there were many days when I felt so alone.

One of the best ways he could ever show me how much he is here supporting me, is for Christmas he surprised me with tickets to the Airborne show in New Orleans in February. He knew I had been going through so much, and knew that, even if for one weekend, I needed a break from all the heartache.

We drove the 8 hours from Austin to New Orleans, and had the best weekend I’ve had in so long. Thanks to someone special, we were able to meet the band before the show and listened in on the sound check. TATE performed their entire lineup for us and one other couple. I am still shocked to this day that I basically got a private concert from them. During the show, Mikel took Ryan’s phone, and took a selfie with us in the background. It’s pretty awesome.

Angela and Ryan meet The Airborne Toxic Event

Angela and Ryan meet The Airborne Toxic Event

We met a few guys from Florida who drove up that morning and were driving back that night, and another guy who flew in from Denver for the night just for the show. It truly shows how amazing TATE is, that people will drive hours on end or fly in for one night just to watch them perform. I think that shows how dedicated we are to the Airborne crew. And they were so worth it. When I met them, each and every one of them was so attentive, generous, and empathetic. Anna even told me about her mom’s battle with cancer when she was growing up. She was so compassionate. I missed meeting Noah, but Adrian was an excellent fill in.

Having cancer these last 6 months has been excruciatingly hard. I lost all of my hair, slept days away, gained roughly 15lbs due to the steroids I was taking, had to bear the stares and secondlooks from children and adults, and lost my sense of worth. No one knows what it’s like to go through cancer unless you’ve been down the same road. I still feel alone, only because even though my best friends, sister, parents, and my husband have gone above and beyond to help me, they don’t exactly know what I am going through; just as I will never know what they went through watching me fight this battle.

I’m glad to say that even though I still don’t feel comfortable in my own skin, there have been so many people come out from nowhere and help me and my family during this time. Every now and then strangers will stop me and give me a high five or a hug because they know what I’m going through. It makes me feel so empowered. I cannot begin to express my gratitude to those who have donated, time, money and even a new air conditioner for our home, to help us get through this difficult time. I know my war is not over with cancer. I still have a long road to go, but I know that TATE has been there all along, and will continue to carry me up every hill. Thanks for all of the encouraging words and prayers. Today I have tossed the cursed ruins of this dreadful disease. Everyday I’m “Changing.”

AngelaAngela lives in Austin TX, and works as a financial analyst. When she’s not creating budgets and actualizing sales costs, she’s spending time with her devoted husband of ten years and beautiful 5-year-old daughter. You can also find her curled up somewhere reading a book. She loves to read, and even calls her kindle her boyfriend, because it goes everywhere with her. Before she got sick, she liked to go for a run around their little lake downtown and take in the scenery of her beautiful city.

By Ginny

This is a blog dedicated to The Airborne Toxic Event and how their music impacts people, but let’s face it, music is art and there are many classifications of art. So while I’ve become a full on Airborne fan, music has always been my first chosen art form for comfort.

I feel honored to have been asked to contribute a post and I’ve entitled it “My Storm” because that’s what this is about, but in the end we’ll pull it together, I promise.

I’m a bona fide member of the walking wounded, and I know I’m not alone. We’ve all faced our own challenges, demons, battles and wounds that we felt like we could never overcome. But we do. We go on with our daily lives for whatever reasons motivate us to do so.

My reasons are my two boys: Owen (8) and Teddy (4). The thing is, when you become a parent, your heart no longer beats in your chest. Mine has been equally divided in half and beats in their miraculous little bodies. Having those two boys helped me to conquer my past which included every form of child abuse that you could imagine. That’s partly why I’m a member of the walking wounded club. Somehow, I’ve broken the cycle of abuse. My boys are safe, well cared for and know they are deeply loved. Simply, they have the childhood I wish for myself. There’s beauty and all sorts of significance in that.

Part of keeping kids safe is baby gates. Most parents put them in place and never remove them. Instead, we hop over them every time we need to leave the room. It was a Sunday morning, and like so many mornings I had dishes in both hands and hopped right over that baby gate. This time, however, my foot caught the top of it. I fell extremely hard and hit the side of my head on a ceramic tiled step. This left me with a concussion and severe herniated disc in my neck. Over time, despite every form of therapy that exists, the disc just became worse and was impinging on my spine, and had pretty much decimated a nerve on my left side. After three years of pain that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, I came to realize that spinal surgery was the only option left. Mind you, I was a single mother through two of those three years, so I didn’t have the luxury of “taking it easy.”

I had spinal surgery last December and felt like, ah, life can finally get back to a new normal. Like a musician (I so wish that were true!) I travel a LOT for work. My first trip was in March of this year. I woke up and knew something was terribly wrong but couldn’t figure it out. I could barely walk, barely breathe and was intensely dizzy. I have no idea how I pulled this off, but I somehow made it through security on to a flight to Phoenix, made it to the hotel and ultimately crashed in my room.

I gave myself lots of extra time the next morning to get ready; I put on my make-up, did my hair and put on a nice dress. All of that, only to faint about 15 feet away from my room. The ENT’s arrived and my heart rate was extremely high and my oxygen low, so they tried to rush me, but I stopped them, saying, “Wait, what can possibly be wrong with me? I just had horrific spinal surgery. I cannot be sick again!” They finally just ignored me and brought me in. I was seen immediately and the ER doc looked at me and said, “You look like a ghost. Aware of any anemia issues?” I said no, I just had surgery and was still tired and not myself, but I thought I was on the mend. At that moment a nurse handed him a sheet of paper, and the doc said, “Your hematocrit is 13%. Good thing you made it here or you’d be dead within a day.”

I couldn’t really comprehend what he was saying because the lack of oxygen made my thoughts all fuzzy, but I simply could not deal with another issue. I had fought so hard and battled such indescribable pain for the past three years, and now I was being rushed to ICU for blood transfusions.

I was in the ICU for three days, and had four transfusions and iron via IV. I was placed on 975mg of iron upon leaving the hospital. For those that don’t know, iron is incredibly hard on the body, but we needed to try to generate red blood cells to combat the blood I was losing in huge degrees due to esophageal disease.

My biopsies came back abnormal, but the tissue is so damaged they can’t confirm if it’s cancer yet. I had a Nissen Fundoplication in June, with complications. I was told that I’m a medical miracle because my esophagus had perforated, which causes “instant death,” but in my case it somehow fused to one of my lungs. The best of the best in the medical community in Chicago have yet to give me any real answers.

To be dealt such a blow after I finally thought all the pain and suffering was over was just devastating. I honestly didn’t know if I could put on my big girl panties and live to fight another day. So I turned to the most beautiful art forms; first and foremost my amazing boys who make it clear that quitting is never an option. I need to pay my mortgage and support my family, so I have to press on. I don’t know if I have cancer, but I do know I’m still bleeding internally and the surgery was not a success. Redo’s for this particular procedure have a high fail rate. Esophageal cancer is one of the deadliest forms. All of this can weigh on me like a ton of bricks, or I can try to shift the focus.

And that’s where the song The Storm comes in. I started listening to it a lot in June prior to and post-surgery.

Your face in these pictures looks like a poem
Your eyes lit up like a river stone
Your body so much like a blanket thrown on a warm bed at night
Like a house in the storm

This verse reminds of me the sparkle in my eyes that my husband fell in love with and assures me I never lost, even when I was “ghost girl” because I had roughly 20% of the normal amount of blood that a human being needs to live. It reminds me that this body, this body ravaged with scars across my neck and six scars on my abdomen, tells a story, yet this body provides comfort to my amazing boys like a warm blanket. They supported me in ways they will never understand.

When shit like this goes down, when you don’t know if your body is growing cancer cells and you can’t get straight answers from top surgeons, it’s enough to drive you truly mad. I had some pretty dark days that forced me into defense mechanisms such as pushing people away, trying to carry it all on my shoulders and pretending things are normal (I hate that word, by the way).

The Light…

Then I realized that I must accept that I don’t have all the answers. I have to watch and wait. There could be more surgeries coming soon. I might receive a cancer diagnosis in September.

For now, I listen to The Storm and I allow myself to relax, to let those in that truly want to stand by my side during this complete shit storm. They truly do love me, and they help me to believe that I’m not alone.

The deep strings, the power of the guitars and bass create such a power-packed emotional experience, and then the song ends gently with the keys of the piano. For me, the highs and lows of the song mirror my own storm. Feeling alone on this island in the middle of the worst storm you can imagine, then somehow being transported while still deeply wounded, and yet having to continue with life as if none of the horror is occurring…then you take a moment to admire all the beauty around you, and you realize, you are not alone in this storm.

This song is here like a good friend waiting to remind you: you’re not alone. It also speaks to kicking ass and walking away like a boss because you are STRONG. There are legions of us in the walking wounded club. We see each other every day, and we take care of one another. With trust in my faith, and music to make me feel less alone, the storm will be temporary and then there will be peace. I just know it.

Click here to purchase The Storm.


Ginny: Fan of The Airborne Toxic EventGinny lives in Chicago and is the Mother of two amazing boys. She is a self-professed media maven by day and top chef by night. Music is Ginny’s number one passion outside of being a Wife and Mother, as well as a full time career woman. Ginny is also driven to drive awareness of suicide prevention and has proudly participated in The Overnight which is a 20 mile walk to drive funds for the AFSP (American Foundation of Suicide Prevention).