What a crazy couple of weeks.
There were high points… low points… everything an epic tale requires.
First, let’s go way back… to the beginning of last winter.
I started noticing that my feet hurt at the end of the day. I just figured it was because I was now wearing heavier footwear due to the weather. As the winter progressed, my feet started hurting more and more and earlier and earlier.
Ruthanne was convinced I should buy new boots but when I checked out the ones I have, there was no significant signs of wear. They weren’t breaking down in any way. There was zero reason to believe something had changed in my boots to cause this.
Spring came and gone were the boots and back to my default… Converse sneakers.
Well, obviously these were shoes without great support. Then one day I woke up in absolute pain. I could barely walk. I made an appointment to see the doctor. I went and bought supportive shoes.
(There are good parts to all of this, I promise…)
So, back on July 24th I went to the doctor (just in time as my feet had progressed to real agony at times), and was diagnosed with ‘falling arches’. I got some anti-inflammatory medicine and things were looking up. The medicine was working quickly and I could feel things getting better.
Oh, in what seemed like a minor thing, I noticed my shoulder was a little stiff that day. Nothing too bad, but it was a little sore.
On Friday I picked up my CapSlam Teammate, Candice, and we headed down to Guelph, to meet up with the rest of the team and perform at the Hillside Festival. This would be the first time we all shared a stage together since the CapSlam Finals. We have been working and doing fund raising etc., but generally in ones or twos… not the whole group.
But…but… when I woke up, my feet were better, but my shoulder was a lot worse. The pain had moved down into my arm and driving from Ottawa to Guelph did me NO favours.
Still, we had a good time at Hillside! I got to see some friends from the wider poetry community. I got to see the TPS team perform. I got to perform alongside my team. It was great!
Nobody from the team was coming back with me on Saturday so I climbed back into the car and started driving back to Ottawa.
I had a bit of adrenaline after a great performance but by the time I got home, my arm was a mess.
Then it got worse.
Trying to sleep was the real issue. Any time I would move at all, I would wake up in pain. I couldn’t get more than a few hours in a stretch. I ended up calling in sick from work on Monday. Then I worked on Tuesday, thinking it felt a little better. By the end of the day I knew that wasn’t true. Wednesday I was back at the doctor’s and was diagnosed with Adhesive Capsulitis. It is also known as ‘frozen shoulder’. Basically, my arm hurt a lot. It was going to keep hurting a lot. Getting it fixed would hurt a lot. It could take as long as a year to be symptom free (though that doesn’t mean it would be as bad as it was for that whole time).
I took to wearing a sling to keep casual movements and nudges from driving pain through me. That sometimes worked. Rush hour bus rides were a special problem. (Side note… standing on the bus with my arm in a sling, in clear discomfort on a crowded bus… number of times I was offered one of those courtesy seats by the healthy looking people sitting in them? Zero. That is out of about a half dozen trips when the bus was that full.)
We had a CapSlam that weekend. I made out fine as DJ. I didn’t slam. (CapSlam teammate, Avonlea won!)
Coming up was a big weekend for me! I had been invited to come and feature at the Toronto Poetry Slam! This would be my first solo feature in the Toronto area (I have had lots of solo features elsewhere, but never in Toronto. I HAVE featured there, but only when I was with The Recipe).
We then arranged for a CapSlam fundraising show in Whitby with Gavin (yet another teammate…)
Could I drive down?
Ruthanne ended that talk pretty quickly. We changed plans so she could come on the trip as well… so she could drive.
So, not only would I NOT be in pain the whole trip (more than my standard level), but Ruthanne would come on the trip with me! Extra fun!
As the trip got closer, though, things looked… less than great. I had one of my bad nights on Thursday and ended up calling in sick on Friday. My arm was really sore and I was completely exhausted. I rested up on Friday and then Saturday we piled into the car and drove to Whitby.
Ruthanne immediately fell in love with the town… or at least the part of town we were in. Beautiful old buildings everywhere. We came in with time to go for some dinner and we went to a BIG pub type place that had a Shrimp Po’Boy on the menu. (Side note: the Shrimp Po’Boy I had at The House of Blues in Orlando was the best sandwich I have ever eaten. I have been trying to find one that good ever since. This one was also not THAT good… but it was still good.
Fun, side note, when we ordered, Ruthanne told the waitress that we were ‘on the clock’ and had to get to a show at a certain time. She asked Ruthanne is we were going to see a play. Ruthanne said, no, it is spoken word and that I was featuring there. After a quick explanation that she meant ‘slam poetry’, the waitress said that she had been to show of that at the Drake one time and really liked it. I smiled and said, “that is where I am featuring tomorrow”.
Rusty the rock star. :)
Then… in my never-ending string of painful incidents lately, we went to cross the road to get back to our car. Ruthanne saw an opening and jogged across. I made the mistake of following her. My feet have all but stopped hurting, due to the medicine I was taking. The first step in my little run undid all the progress I had made. It felt like I had stepped on a nail that drove straight up into my heel.
We got to the venue where I just sat and tried to get my set straight in my head. I was very uncomfortable – could barely walk – and what seemed like a fun time got lots less fun.
But then the show started. We had some great guest performers who had offered their time to help us raise some money. In addition to Gavin we had Vince Kang, Same Difference, Shawna Dmitry, Thuderclaw and Nathan de Rushe. Ian Creo Walters was hosting.
By the time we got to my set, I was feeling revitalized by the poetry in the room. I got up there, and while my foot was still hurting and my shoulder was still hurting, I felt good.
I did my set. I started with Day One and ended with 1968 and did some work I was proud of in between. People laughed. People listened. People appreciated. The crowd wasn’t large but it was very receptive and giving.
In the end it was a great night. I sold a BUNCH of my books – both the new one and the older one – and we raised a bunch of money for the team.
Then Ruthanne and I got back into the car and drove into Toronto where we were staying with TPS super-organizer, Dave Silverberg!
Dave was a great host and when we got up on Sunday, Dave and I were off to the Blue Jays game! Dave knew I was a fan and asked me in advance if I would like to go to a game. (Ruthanne likes baseball too, but by the time she was coming with me due to my health issues, we already had tickets. She spent her time in vintage clothing stores and a museum instead.)
And WHAT A GAME!
The Tigers scored 5 runs early and it looked like were in for a dud, but Dioner Navarro hit a two-run shot and David Price left the game. The Jays feasted on Phil Coke and tied things up in the ninth. Dave and I had to leave after ten innings because we had a show to go to (I WAS in town for something other than the game…) and as the afternoon/evening wore on I kept getting updates from Brad and my sister Toni as the game went on… and on… and on… until Toronto won in NINETEEN INNINGS!
Now, in a good mood, but still hurting a little bit, it was time for TPS! I got to watch Gavin kick some slam ass, rocking his way to a big win and I got to do a set that went over quite well (though maybe not QUITE as well as Whitby the night before).
Side note: The Toronto crowd is quite a bit quieter than Ottawa. Appreciative, but just in a different way.
It went well. I got lots of audience compliments after. I sold and signed more books.
(And I got ‘that guy’ who insists that me trying to be nice to someone in ‘The Stranger’, AFTER I HAD JUST EXPLAINED MY GOAL OF TRYING TO MAKE LIFE BETTER FOR SOMEBODY EVERY DAY, is somehow insulting men. I gave my polite response where I explained that I never said that I HAD to cross the street, but rather I CHOSE to cross the street. He thought that I was just ‘enabling them’. It is a tough conversation for me because I find this argument insanely stupid, ignorant and uncaring… BUT, I also openly tell people to feel free to criticize whatever I say so…)
Back to Ottawa on Monday, ending in a good team meeting with the whole team including coach. It was productive.
I’ve got something to say, yo. A couple of features and a great meeting and I feel refreshed, reenergized, GREAT!
I didn’t even wear my sling to work today. I just feel too good. (I brought it, just in case. I’m not stupid.) :)
I am ready for the world.
I have another feature this month at In/Words. I have the festival in October. I have features in October in Victoria and Vancouver.
Anybody else want to book me?
I don’t normally ‘put myself out there’ but I really feel like I have something to say right now. I feel really good about my set.
Oh… and I have to order more books already. :)