Thursday, December 25, 2008

Cantique de Noel aka O Holy Night sung by Pavarotti

press play and close your eyes:

The music was written by Adolphe Charles Adam (1803-1856), a French composer best known for his ballet "Giselle." The lyrics were written by Placide Cappeau de Roquemaure in 1847. At the time, it was frowned upon by church authorities who denounced it for lack of musical taste and "total absence of the spirit of religion." I like the last verse:
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother;
And in His name all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we,
Let all within us praise His holy name.
Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Cuts Like a Knife - Bryan Adams

Press play:
Cuts Like A Knife....
For my surgeon, I'm sure my procedure was very routine. Compared to other operations he did Tuesday, my ACDF (anterior cervical discectomy with fusion) was like an electrician fixing two sockets that were shorting, not like replacing the wiring in a whole house. But for the patient, it was a fairly big deal. Waiting, draw blood, EKG, waiting, gown and silly socks, waiting, IV, waiting, answering the same questions over and over. They must have asked me 7 times, "what are you having done today?" in order to make sure they didn't take out my spleen or amputate my leg or something. By the time the surgeon and the anesthesiologist came to see me I had it down, "ACDF, through the neck, C5-C6 & C6-C7, take out the disks, put in a cage full of cadaver bones and my marrow (from my hip), put a plate across the vertebrae, and we're out." Then the doctor wrote on the left side of my neck and off they took me. On the right is an xray (not mine) of what it looks like now.

It got me thinking a lot about how amazing it is that people had surgery 100+ years ago, and lived, much less were "cured." Battlefields, disgusting facilities, etc. Even 60 years ago, when my grandparents had back surgery, they were in full body casts for three months. And I was sending notes from my BlackBerry within 48 hrs.

And then I realized that for most people in the world, the medical standards of 1950's America would be a significant improvement. It makes the projects we have on the GlobalGiving site focused on safe health treatment even more resonant for me. Our health care system may suck by some standards, but I tell you what, we've got it pretty damn good.

And it sure was nice to get to pick the music I listened to off the doctor's Ipod in the operating room. Bruce Springsteen, Badlands, was playing as I drifted off. I asked for the "The Rising" but they thought that was too grim.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Naive Melody, aka "Home" - Talking Heads

Press Play:

I just finished the last of several short trips taken during the last couple of months. Destinations included Northern California, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Indianapolis and, most recently, London England. I returned from London a couple of days ago having royally messed up my neck. The last two days have been aided by Vicodin. Is this what House takes? Hard to imagine how he can pop two of these (he's always popping two pills at a time) and do his life-saving work.

But I digress from the title/point of this post. Do I? Does it have a point? Home. I have noticed that often when I am away, I have a strange it to be "home?" And what is home? Sometimes I consider California home. Sometimes Maryland/DC. Sometimes being with Debbie, or being with Meredith & gang, or being with the birth family. Sometimes it's just a sense of being that is independent from other people. And of course at Fannie Mae we were "showing America a new way home." Did we mean it literally? Hmm.

Songwriters have written about "home" forever, often metaphorically:

Michael Buble: Another winter day has come and gone away, in even paris and rome, and I wanna go home
Daughtry: I don't regret this life I chose for me, But these places and these faces are getting old, So I'm going home.
Jack Johnson: I try to understand, what I can't hold in my hand, and where ever we are, home is there too
Bonnie Raitt: And Home, Sings me of sweet things, My life there has it's own wings
To fly over the mountains, Though I'm standing still

Talking Heads: Home, is where I want to be, but I guess I'm already there.

So this bodes the home a place or a state of mind? Yes, I say, yes!