2011 Ends On A Low Note

2011 Ends On A Low Note

By Chuck RitenouR

Its January 5th at 2:43 am, I am still not feeling it. This New Years was only the second year in the passed 30 that I did not play somewhere. Last year, I helped ring the new year in at Avalon a clothing optional resort in the hills of wild and wonderful West Virginia. Though it was apparent from the start, the band was definately over dressed for the gig.


Year 2011 provided me with more challenges than I would have wished. Our drummer, Ed began suffering from hepitis C, a virus he has carried for a very long time, but had previously been dormant. It not only weakened his physical body but has left his mind in confusion as well. Ralph, one of our guitarist quit the band. We were contracted to play at Shenandoah Vineyards Summer Festival. Ralph decided that due to a personal problem with me (I had called him out over his indiscreet use of recreational drugs) that he would use this opportunity to "quit" the band by just not showing up. We were friends for 45 years. I guess I thought our friendship could withstand a riff and at the very least Ralph would act like the professional I took him to be. I was wrong. We played without him and were received so well that future bookings were assured. We hired Robbie, one of the original band members who had quit before I joined the band to play keyboards. Using a rotation of local drummers and Ed occasionally when he had the strength, we continued to play. In October, Paul our lead singer and guitarist decided to join another local band and play with both bands. In 2011, NODRAMA played 125 shows. Its January 5th, and I haven't even started booking 2012........but its not just the band.


In November, our family received a shock. It seems my younger brother has a large cancerous growth wrapped around his voice box. He has started his once a day radiation treatments and his once a week chemo. He had to have a trach tube inserted into his throat and a feeding tube inserted into his stomach. My little brother had always been a heavy beer drinker and a chain smoker, sometimes three packs a day. He always loved to talk when he was "in his cups" and I have had several very long phone conversations that were at the time just an amusing pain in the ass. Now he communicates with an erasable pen and board. He said he did this to himself. I had to bite my tongue. Our parents are in their eigthies and this has shaken them to their core. The thought that they actually outlive one of their children is something they never thought they would have to experience. I am their caregiver. I see them for extended periods nearly every day. My brother has a twin sister who is married and lives in Michigan. She is in constant contact with my brother's wife here in Virginia. Every thing that happens is pasted on second hand and emotionally charged to my parents. If I could, I'd stop it. He didn't just do this to himself.

Well, its 3:20 am now and I have a doctor's appointment later this morning at The Veterans Medical Center in Martinsburg, West Virginia. I have been thinking about giving up performing because it takes a great deal of effort and pills to be able to tolerate the back spasms that are an end result. Sometime in the future, I will have an operation to fuse my L3 and L4. It may not be much, but its something,

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Eanatas profile image

Eanatas 4 years ago from Ohio

Chuck, I tore my disks at L3 and L4. Then 2 days later I was paralyzed in my left leg. 8 months of therapy later I started to get use of my leg again. The therapy was electonic stimulis that just kept my muscles from dying. I was down for three years and lost my wife, stepson,and home,from a divorce. The depression I felt was terrible. Luckily the Va. was there to help. They don't want to do surgery. Instead I get Ibuprofen 1000 mg twice a day. I was upset at that but it really keep the imflammation from pinching the siatic, cyatic, well ever how you spell it, it doesn't send the stabbing pain anymore. Hang in there, It will get better and you will have a renewed love for you music. Good Luck


Jean Bakula profile image

Jean Bakula 4 years ago from New Jersey

It was sure a hard year for you. It takes a lot out of you to be a caretaker and see people you love suffer, and surely no parent should have to outlive their child. My best friend passed on about 5 yrs ago, and I promised to "keep an eye" on her Mom. I do, we meet for lunch or dinner. I am OK then, but after I leave I have to pull the car over to cry it out. Try not to give up performing if you can possibly do it, since when you do what you love, it is positive. And be careful with back surgery. I had 2 fusions as a child, but I know adults that mostly report that the surgery makes it worse. I wish you all the best, and hope things get better for you this year. Hang in there.


Chuck RitenouR profile image

Chuck RitenouR 4 years ago from Front Royal, Virginia Author

Eanatas and Jean Bakula,

I want to thank you for your kind comments and concern. Sometimes, I can't speak aloud the words I can write. Today upon returning from the VA Med Ctr in Martinsburg, WV, I received a call from the U of Md VA Med Ctr in Baltimore,Md. I spoke to the surgeon. Apparently the surgery is going to be a bit more extensive than I thought L4 to S1. I dropped in on my brother and after 2 chemo treatments and a week and a half of radiation treatments, he was told it appears the growth is smaller. One can only hope.

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