Thursday, May 19, 2016

How Music is Helping My Brain Surgery Recovery

This is Daryl Bennett, the guitar player. The rhythm of my life was completely thrown off beat this month when I had a ruptured cavernous malformation. A cavernous malformation is a cluster of additional blood vessels in the brain, and some people have this and they'll never know about it. But, it's common to rupture between ages 20 - 30. It hit me all of a sudden. One day, I wasn't able to say what I was thinking. It was like my brain was disconnected from my mouth. I went to band practice with this condition, and I was trying to teach Mark our bassist the root notes of a particular song. I knew that it was Em C G D, but I wasn't able to say it. I had a bad stutter. Long story short, I had to have brain surgery. The brain bleeding affected the expressive side of my brain, the ability to speak and compose. A common question was if I was still able to play music. Fortunately, yes! That part of my brain wasn't affected at all. The operation was a success, and I'm expected to make a full recovery. Unfortunately, the recovery is long, 1 to 2 months at best.

Staples after my operation
I can't work, I can't drive, I can't go to school, my wife took a long leave from work because I can't be alone, because I'm considered high risk of seizure for the first 6 months. I have 5 tasks each day: take my anti-seizure medication, don't get constipated, take short walks, don't strain myself and take many naps. The rest of the day is "free time".

I'm the type of person that would go crazy if I just watched TV and played video games all day. The sheer amount of unproductivity would drive me bonkers. I enjoy TV and video games, but only in small amounts. I can't do it all day, everyday for 1 - 2 months. Luckily I have music. The past 5 years, I haven't been able to practice music as much as I'd like. I've had religious service (LDS mission), job, family, and the biggest time consumer, my Computer Science University degree. Now I finally have a breather, and I can play several hours a day again. Even though it makes me tired and I have to take a nap in between practice. It really does keep me sane to have music, and to steadily progress every day. It gives me something to look forward to.

Recording with Eighth Day

I'm also taking a break from band practice, until the doctor clears me next month to go back to work. My goal is to have all of the songs super tight. I'm just grateful that everything went well and that I have the coolest hobby in the world, and that I still do it. I'd be devastated if I lost my ability to play music. Music is my therapy.

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