On headset

This blog has, up until now, been predominately a photo blog. Well, with all the photoshop work, perhaps it’s an image blog. And yes, it has served as a pretty cool documentary of images from my career as a lighting designer. Sure there has been the occasional post of a rooster or a rabbit, but for the most part, I don’t really dribble on about the days accomplishments, give facts about new camera gear, or rant about poor customer service I received somewhere. There are other fantastic blogs for that, some of which I read on a regular basis.

As I listen to Pat Metheny’s melodic acoustic work in “One Quiet Night” on the Ipod, I am trying to recall the events that unfolded yesterday. I had fully intended to be processing some images from the last day in Boston on the flight I am on right now. The walking tour from the brochure looked like a great place to take in “Old World” Boston. The walk from downtown would have taken me past century old buildings, the Old North Cathedral, and the USS Constitution just to name a few.

The plan was to take a 2 hour power nap after our show was over and hit the trail with the overloaded camera backpack. After about 20 minutes in the room, that’s when “IT” hit. I am referring to the most excruciatingly sharp pain in the head I have ever experienced. It started as an intensely tight feeling in the top back of my neck that sent signals of bullet precision pain to the front of my head. Oh my god, am I dying? Is this what it feels like? Thoughts of recent tragedies that hit close to home went through my head. Is this what Ryan Reott felt like before his aneurism? Did John Wurm feel this bad before he passed out and went into the coma that he is still in today? Was Jon Stoll aware he was having a stroke as it took his life?

I have a pretty good tolerance to pain, or at least I think I do. I also think I am pretty healthy. I don’t even think I have had a cold in over a year. As I paced back and forth in the hotel room attempting to find comfort in the fact that might not ever see tomorrow, the throbbing pain got even worse. I couldn’t even cry. My entire body seemed to be focused of delivering these pain signals with the precise timing of a Swiss train.

The decision to call the front desk for a Dr. was a difficult one for me to make. “What’s wrong Mr. Steighner?” “Well, I have a real bad headache…….” Pause……”Well, sorry to hear that”……pause……”Is there a Doctor on staff?”……..”Well, not really”…….Al-righty, here we go!

The wait for the ambulance in the lobby was an awkward one. Passing guests, the concierge, the security guards, all of them seemed to be looking at me with this “what is he on?” look. “I’m not a druggie, I’m dying over here!” At least, that’s what it felt like.

When the ambulance showed up, I quickly realized that Ringling Brothers had apparently released a couple of their circus clowns to pick me up. At first, I thought that the cavalry had arrived. These hopes rapidly deteriorated as one of the techs asked me for my address at least 3 times as he tried to figure out the state of the art wireless data system he was attempting to utilize. State of the art only works when paired with a properly trained technician. Just as the 2nd technician finished his balloon art, a poodle I think it was, he honked his red nose, jumped in the front seat, and away we went. They had nothing at all relieve the pain even though I asked for a ballpeen hammer twice.

After navigating the rush hour Boston traffic, we arrived at the emergency room. The whole process of collecting personal information continued, or should I dare say, started again….from the beginning! Just to springboard forward an hour or 2 just for a moment, this painful process was continued yet again a 3rd time as well in the ER room #1. This time it was with what I thought was an intelligent nurse. That is, until I had to repeat every last word about 3 or 4 times. Must have been the drugs they gave me, not sure. I hope she got it all right. If she didn’t, I might never get the bill! HA! Anyway………

Fast forward to my ER room. Hooked up to IV, fluid pouring into my arm, EKG sensors on my chest, automatic blood pressure sensors hooked up…I’m not going anywhere soon. I can’t say enough kind words about the Dr. and nurses however. I never had a rushed feeling, they made me feel comfortable, they answered questions, and all seemed very knowledgeable. And wow, was that catscan tech cute! I won’t soon forget her, that’s for sure. (sorry, I digress)

To make a long story, well, even longer, they went though a series of tests to rule out things. The Dr. came in and immediately ran a few simple reaction tests to see if I had a stroke. I was impressed with his speed of the delivery of these tests. He was taking this seriously! “Lift up your arms, smile, tell me what you had for dinner, look here, look here, where are you at……” He was doing all the classic things you are to do to a patient to rule out a stroke. I remember reading about this process before. Perhaps this is what the balloon clowns should have done about an hour ago?!?! Once a stroke was ruled out, he then described the next few steps which included a cat scan and then possibly a spinal tap. I proceeded to ask him if Nigel Tuflan and the rest of the band were gonna be there, only to receive 3 blank stares in return!

The next few moments are a bit cloudy. Yes, for some reason, the cat scan tech is forever etched in my brain, but nothing else really. The last real crisp moment I had was being asked to curl up in a fetal position to receive the spinal tap needle. I don’t even remember it at all as I think the VERSED drug kicked in just in time. Thank you Roche Pharmaceuticals and thanks Doc!

After I completed all the tests, I was told that they all came out negative. I was fine. I almost wanted to hear that they found a blockage the size of a stick of butter in my vertebral artery or perhaps that a chunk of my porterhouse steak from last night’s dinner was hanging out in my right atrium! But, the fact was, I was going to be released.

Cut to the next scene, there’s Frank Solecetto! Frank is a long time friend that I got to work with again on this show. Thanks for putting us both on this show Rick!!! He came over to see that I got back to the hotel safely. All the crew were asking about me and were concerned. Actually, I should have had him take me there instead of the ambulance. Oh, that’s right….he sucks at making balloon animals and he forgot his long red shoes and clown wig in New York! Frank, you better pack better next time.

As I finally read the papers that were given to me upon release, It is all coming together now in clear focus. There is a paragraph that says the following:

The cause of your headache today is not clear, but it does not appear to be the sign of any     serious illness. Under stress, some people tense the muscles of their shoulders, neck and scalp without knowing it. If this condition lasts long enough, a TENSION HEADACHE can occur.

A MIGRAINE HEADACHE is caused by changes in blood flow to the brain. A migraine attack may be triggered by emotional stress, hormome changes during a cycle, alchohol use, certain foods containing tyramine, eye strain, weather changes, missing meals, lack of sleep or over sleeping.

Bingo, a bad migraine headache! I hit six of these items. A headache!!! An ambulance ride to the ER for a headache! I am obviously going to follow up with my doctor, but, I mean really…….a migraine! That’s enough to make you feel like a real jackass.

All goofing aside, I am glad that is all it was. It’s going to be great to be able to see my kid on Fathers Day. And for all you dads out there, have a happy one. And since you are able to, make sure you tell them how much you love them and how proud you are to be their father!

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