Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the category “Family and Friends”

Like Asthma But Different


I noticed something recently with my being confined, socially distanced.  Having nowhere to go or travel to, for 98% of my day, I stay indoors, in the air conditioning in Florida.  While staying cool, it is creating an issue with one of the late side effects that I deal with from my cancer treatments thirty years ago.  I have a condition called “restrictive lung disease” as a result of radiation therapy and chemotherapy.

I need to state up front, the picture above, a healthy set of lungs, is not mine.  And to be clear, the following pictures of lungs that I will show are not mine either.  But they will illustrate my concerns.

This x-ray shows an image that could be mine, but is not.  I see chest wires which indicates the patient likely had heart surgery, and I see EKG wires I believe.  In any case, this image shows damage to the lungs as a result of radiation damage.  How much radiation do you have to receive to have this damage?  I honestly do not know.  How much did I receive?  4000 grays of radiation.  And if you know anything about radiation, such as techs or nuclear power plant workers, you know this is not good.

When I first discovered that I was struggling to breathe, I underwent a series of pulmonary function testing, as well as other imaging studies.  I was found to have several unidentified spots on my lungs (that are being watched if they change over to cancer), and the lower left lobe described as “dead”.  My lung capacity measures 76%.

So what does this mean?  Well, if you cup your hands over your mouth and nose tightly, and either try to talk or do some sort of activity, you will find it has become difficult.  That is sort of what it feels like.  But it gets more complicated.  In extreme weather conditions, hot and humid, extreme cold, or cool wind, it causes my lungs to restrict even further.  The best way to describe this feeling, is like an extreme asthma attack.  The only difference, an inhaler does not relieve it.

When I get hit with these attacks, regardless of the cause, the only way that I get relief, is to sit somewhere quiet and more temperature comfortable, close my eyes, and just concentrate on my breathing.  How long the exposure determines the length of the recovery.  I have been able to do it in fifteen minutes, and it has taken me an hour in others.

I live in one of the more hot and humid states in the country.  I did not always live here.  So, for me to have moved here, caused a lot of people to scratch their heads, myself included.  But there is a simple logic involved in how I have actually dealt with this situation, I control my exposure.  I avoid the hottest periods of the day.  I do not spend lengthy periods of time outdoors, and do not do anything physically strenuous.  And for the most part, my body has acclimated to this climate.

When I lived in the northeast area of the country, I dealt with multiple episodes of lung issues, repeatedly ending up in the emergency room.  One of which nearly killed me, septic pneumonia.  This picture is what a lung affected by pneumonia looks like (again, not mine).

I have held my own here.  I manage my lung issues as best as I can.  My episodes are not as often.  Even my children have witnessed these attacks both in warm and cold climates.  I have assured them, that I know how to deal with them, and they do not need to worry about me.  Just to keep me company and they will see how I deal with these episodes.  This is not something that requires medical attention, just an opportunity to restore.  So, for the most part, all I have really concerned myself with my lungs, has been pneumonias and those spots.  Until…

COVID19

Of course, like everyone else, the initial reaction was “great, another virus.  Big deal.”  Soon, it was realized, it was a big deal, especially for those with pre-existing and compromising conditions like I have, no spleen, and lung damage, just two of the five boxes I check off for vulnerability.

The concern with the lungs?  Pneumonia.  But a more stubborn and so far, no treatment for this pneumonia.

In other words, if I get Covid19, it will kill me.  Not fear, not fact.  My lung issues are well-known and documented.  I need to avoid this at all possible.  I have previously stated, a vaccine is not likely an answer for me either depending if it is “live media” or “deactivated”.  I cannot receive “live” vaccines because of my immunity issues.

So anyway, I have done what I can to avoid contracting this virus.  I have stayed indoors for probably 95% of my day, in a constant and comfortable seventy-four degree climate.

Well, as things begin to open up, and our temperatures and humidity have begun to creep up to the typical seasonal figures, that 5% is now being impacted.  What this means, is at one time, I averaged my outdoor time about 50-50 pre-Covid19.  I have to once again, work on my exposure levels so that my lungs are not under such duress.

The good thing for me, I know what happens, I know what causes it, and I know how to deal with it and reverse it.  This is just one of those extra things that myself, and other long term survivors have to deal with, on top of the actual risks of the virus itself.  I do what I can to keep my lungs in the best condition I can in spite of the limits.

Bloody Well Right This Was A Good Album


Music has always been a part of my life.  I began singing at age eight.  I had a keyboard that I played nightly for my grandmother.  Of course, I spent many hours listening to radio.  I participated in all kinds of choral activity.  I learned to play guitar.

But in 1984, I was given an opportunity that would impact the rest of my life, and give me full exposure, literally to the world of music and what was available to listen to.

It was a small college radio station at the college I was attending, WXLV, 90.3fm.  There were about a dozen other jocks.  Two of my professors were also advisors (not the correct title for their roles), but that fact did give me some perks, but definitely a lot of good times.

Up until that time, I had been described as a “bubble gum” type DJ, a reference to being into “pop” music.  With no rhyme or reason, I was teamed up with someone named “Kamikaze” Craig.  He aired a heavy metal genre radio show, making him one of the more popular DJ, as he was known for bringing in a lot of acts into this tiny college radio.  Being non-public radio, genres included heavy metal, art rock, classic rock, and polka.

Craig was definitely a cool guy, a lot of fun.  I could tell by the interaction he had with his listeners and callers.  I learned to expand my music taste to include a harder sound.  And you know what?  I liked it.  After a couple of shows with Craig, I was ready to go, just needed an opportunity.  It happened quickly.

One of the managers came up to me, “there is an opening tomorrow morning we need filled.  You interested?”  I felt Craig had done well training me.  I was a quick learner.  I would be allowed to play whatever I wanted, and now I knew more music than when I started.  I was ready.

“You’ll be doing classic rock from 11am to 1pm.”

Huh?  What?  Classic rock?  What the hell was that?  If you have ever heard the expression, “being thrown to the wolves”, the wolves were now tucking their napkins in, ready to feast.  I had no idea what to play.

“Just pick music that is at least ten years old and you’ll be fine.”  I had been listening to music a long time, but really had no concept on how “old” music was.  And really not getting much more help at 10:55am that next morning, I turned my microphone on.  “Good morning.  You’re listening to WXLV 90.3 fm.  My name is Paul Johns (one of the many alternative names I used, this one after a Seattle Seahawk wide receiver) and I’ve got classic rock for your lunch period.  Today’s my first day, so I will be honest, I have no clue what to play for you all listening out there.  But if you call me right now, I guarantee you I will get your classic rock requests on as soon as I can.”

This particular time slot was a busy one, because there were a lot of businesses that listened to our unique format.  Our station was known for not playing things that have been overplayed.  I gave the phone number, and then pressed the button to play the turntable I had cued up.  I was playing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, a song that I knew met the “age” requirement.  It was a six minute song.  Which came in handy.

My phone immediately lit up from Scott Cheverolet’s service department.  They were regulars for this particular time slot.  I answered and was asked if I could play Supertramp’s “School”.  I had never heard of it before, but I knew all I would have to do is go to the music library, find the Supertramp albums, which for the most part, the albums were in alphabetical order, and I was good to go.  Before I hung up, I mentioned to the caller that it was my first time, and that I could really use their help in filling two hours of classic rock music.

And I got a lot of help not only from that first caller, but from several others after.  Some of the requests that I played, actually sounded familiar.  Now I was able to put titles to songs.  Staring at the music library, I now realized what I had at my fingertips, and it would make my ears, and my soul happy.

I would spend about three years there, on and on.  Several of my fellow jocks would be there way longer.  And I still keep in touch with them to this day, thirty years later.  One of the happier times of my life for sure.  Good friends they all were.  But it also started a long career as a disc jockey, playing mostly live gigs.

But getting back to that first request, “School,” comes from Supertramp’s album “Crime of The Century.”  If you were to ask the average person for a song from Supertramp, if they knew who the band was, you are more likely to get a song like “The Logical Song” or “Take the Long Way Home” from their album “Breakfast In America” which got way more commercial play.

“School” was a much more thought-provoking single, often considered a studio release, in that, it would never be played on commercial radio or perhaps even in concert.  But the first song on the second side of the album, would get a lot of airplay.  “Dreamer”, much more of the “bubblegum” sound that I was accused of, was classic rock!  It also was a hit for Supertramp after the failure of their first two albums, this album finally was successful because of “Dreamer.”

I would sit in the “recording” studio next door to the on-air studio after every show from that point on, and listen to the albums in their entirety, not just to get familiar with classic rock music, but because the albums, and the bands were that good.

“Bloody Well Right” and “Rudy” would get a lot of attention, but that would be it until “Breakfast In America” came out, really.

But there are a lot of good tracks on that album including, “Hide In Your Shell”, “Asylum”, “If Everyone Was Listening”, and of course the title track, “Crime Of The Century.”

I would go back and listen to the first two albums by Supertramp, and would listen to each one that came after “Crime Of The Century.”

The Super Group


In 1982, four musicians from four other well known bands came together, forming the super group, Asia.  Yes, the term “super group” existed long before 1982, but really just began being used with the birth of Asia.  Carl Palmer of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, Steve Howe of Yes, Geoff Downes of the Buggles (Video Killed The Radio Star), and John Wetton of King Crimson, consisted of the lineup.

With the help of MTV, when they used to play music videos, “Only Time Will Tell” and “Heat Of The Moment” got lots of attention, garnishing #1 status for the album in the US.  This debut album only released two songs before coming out with the next effort, Alpha, a similarly written and produced record.

The entire album is heart pounding and melodious.  It does not have the continuity of a concept album, which definitely explains why it did not have more commercial success being played mostly on album oriented rock radio stations.

“Soul Survivor”

“One Step Closer”

“Time Again”

“Wildest Dreams”

“Without You”

“Cutting It Fine”

“Here Comes The Feeling”

Just one great song after another.  Of course, as is often the case these days with new technology, albums get remastered and songs get added to even original albums.  An additional tune, often played in the concerts recognizing their 25th anniversary, “Ride Easy” took on a whole new meaning when lead singer John Wetton passed away from cancer.

There had been some lineup changes over the years, but the bulk of the music, no matter what, sounded like “Asia” as it was from the beginning.  The average person may think there was only one album released by this super group, I am one of the oddballs that actually has all fourteen albums.

It was during the 25th anniversary tour, that reunited all of the original band members.  I went to that concert with my late brother-in-law, who passed away from Lou Gerhrig’s Disease soon after.  Both of us appreciating the concert because not only did they knock that first album out in its entirety, each member of the band played a song from their original band as well.

We heard “Hall Of The Crimson King” from King Crimson, “Roundabout” from Yes, “Karnevil 9” from Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, and for the first time in my life, “Video Killed The Radio Star” from the Buggles.

A great night of live music.  One of the best memories with my brother-in-law.  A great album.

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