Monday, November 26, 2007

Van Halen

Last night I saw Van Halen in concert at Cox Arena on the campus of San Diego State University. When I heard that Van Halen was touring with original front man David Lee Roth, I had to get tickets. The last time I saw Van Halen was in 1986 at the San Diego Sports Arena. At the time Sammy Hagar was the new lead singer. It was a great show and Sammy was a worthy sucessor. But, I always wished I could have seen them in their original encarnation. When this chance arose I couldn't pass it up.

It was my first time attending a concert at Cox Arena and it won't be my last. The parking was very convenient and the disabled seating was very good; my nurse, Ernie had an attendant seat right next to me. All the disabled seating is at the top all the way around the oval arena. But, it is not nosebleed at all. Since the arena is fairly small, the disabled seating provided a great view of the stage. The seats in front of me were set farther down so that if people stood up my view was not obstructed; a large video screen at the back of the stage provided great closeups of the action.

As I sat in my spot waiting for the show to start and watching all the people file in I noted such a variation of ages. It went from teenagers all the way up to the 50 something crowd. The concert started with a reggae band; the name escapes me. That was an odd opening act for a hard rock band. But, they were pretty good. I especially liked their covers of Bob Marley's songs No Woman No Cry and I Shot the Sheriff . I like reggae, it is generally upbeat. They performed for about a half hour. For the next half hour we waited as they prepared the stage for the main act. By this point the anticipation in me was growing stronger by the minute and I could sense it in the crowd as well.

After what seemed an eternity, the lights in the arena went out and as the opening chords of You Really Got Me blasted from the speakers and the stage lights lit up the crowd roared. After that is was one great song after another. They performed songs such as Jamies Crying, (Oh)Pretty Woman, Beautiful Girls, Somebody Get Me a Doctor, And the Cradle Will Rock, Running with the Devil, Hot for Teacher, Panama, Ice Cream Man, Aint Talkin' 'Bout Love, Unchained. They ended with the song, Jump. I hoped they would have done some encores. There was also a great drum solo by Alex Van Halen and Eddie Van Halen had an amazing guitar solo. He is still one of the great guitarists. After all these years they can still rock. It was interesting to see Eddie's 16 year old son, Wolfgang playing bass; he replaces original bassist Michael Anthony. Michael Anthony was a great bassist and when I heard he was no longer with the band and that Eddie's teenage son was the new bassist, I was a little dissappointed. But, my dissappointment soon melted away when I heard him play. That boy can rock. It was great to see father and son performing together. David Lee Roth was still just as good, although he forget the words twice. But, it didn't detract from the show. He is still quite the showman after all these years with his glittering jackets and different colored top hats. He pranced and leaped around the stage and seemed to enjoy the limelight. Although his leaps were not as high as in his younger years, he still did a good job. Overall, it was a great concert and well worth the expense.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Embarcadero Park

Today I went down to Embarcadero Park in San Diego with my nurse, Ernie. It was a cool, breezy day along the waterfront of beautiful San Diego Bay. It was nice to stroll along the waterfront and see all the sailboats out on the bay catching the wind. There is something peaceful about seeing sailboats gliding through the water. There were a lot of other people out and about enjoying the day after Thanksgiving. I decided to avoid shopping areas, on this "black Friday", the busiest shopping day of the year. I guess many other people had the same idea as me. Because of the breezes there were an assortment of colorful kites of all shapes and sizes on display. I have always enjoyed the sight of kites. I wish I could come up with a way to fly kites from my wheelchair. Another interesting site was a man balancing rocks on top of other rocks. It seemed to violate the laws of gravity. A crowd of people were gathered around to marvel at this feat. I want to know how he was able to balance those rocks. Here and there hanging out on the grass and enjoying the day were the ubiquitous homeless people. I wonder what their stories are. How many of them are there by choice, how many are there because of unfortunate circumstances, or mental illness? On this day after Thanksgiving and seeing the homeless people makes me truly thankful to have a roof over my head.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


It is Thanksgiving. A good time to reflect on what I am thankful for. The following is the list of the things that I am thankful for:

  1. My Family because of their support and love, most especially during the times when I have been hospitalized and in life threatening condition. They gave me the will to pull through and to live on.

  2. My friends because of their support, acceptance, love, and because they too have given me the will to live on.

  3. My life because I am alive due to life-prolonging technology, and because I have a lot to live for: my family, my niece and nephews, and friends. Also because my power wheelchair and accessible van gives me freedom to get around and out of the house.

  4. That I am able to live at home and not in a nursing home. This is made possible by my nurses who take such good care of me and allow for my independence.

  5. That I have a roof over my head. This is more important to me since the recent wildfires in San Diego County destroyed so many homes, and my home was threatened with possible destruction by the fire.

  6. The firefighters because they saved so many homes including my own during the San Diego wildfires.

  7. My cat, Lucky because of the comfort and joy he provides me.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because of the gathering of family, which has always been important to me. The turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie used to also be my favorite part of the holiday. But, now that I no longer eat, that part of the holiday is now a pleasant memory. Thanksgiving dinner would not be the same through a feeding tube. It was hard to find out that I was no longer able to swallow to eat, especially when I would no longer be able to eat my favorite foods, or any food, but I gradually became resigned to the reality. It is still difficult at times to be around people eating, but I can focus on other things and put it out of my mind. I let people eat around me because I don't want people acting differently on account of me. Dysphagia, or problem swallowing is not the end of the world, it is a new adjustment to make in my life; something I've been doing my whole life with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Muscular Dystrophy Adult Support Group

Today I attended the monthly MDA Adult Support Group. I have been attending since 1990; I guess that qualifies me as a regular. It was just me and my nurse, Ernie; the facilitator, David; The head of patient services at MDA San Diego, Danielle; my friends Ceci and Jason. The three of us are regulars at the group. Ceci has an undetermined condition. She has two dogs, Spike and Samson. Spike is a Yorkshire Terrier, who used to be her assistance dog. He is kind of a mascot to the group. He is always trying to get cookies from the attendees. His cute, little face usually gets him cookies. Samson is a friendly black lab who is the new assistance dog. Jason is an aspiring filmmaker with Freidrick's Ataxia, who doesn't let anything get in his way of enjoying his life and pursuing his dreams (see blog post of September 15, 2007).

Today we went around the circle, as usual to see what was new with everybody since the last meeting. David also asked us each to talk about a Thanksgiving memory. Mine was the time my family rented a houseboat on Lake Mead for Thanksgiving. We were going to fish for our food. Big mistake! After a day of fishing, all we had to show for our efforts were a small sunfish and a catfish. Our pitiful Thanksgiving dinner for the five of us was a few Tater-Totts and some fish. The dinner was not so great, but the important part was that we were all together as a family. To this day we still laugh about it.