How Miles Davis Saved My Life

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You are never more alone than in a chair waiting for your first round of chemotherapy. Everything was new, strange and threatening (somehow). Sitting in an industrial strength La-Z-Boy I took my iPod off shuffle, spun the dial to Miles and started drifting off as a bag of clear liquid gold flowed down a small plastic tube into my arm. Suddenly I was very cold.

I gathered the blanket the knowing nurse left and curled into a fetal position. Miles started Birth of the Cool. His magic calming horn flowing as seamlessly in to my brain as the drugs into my arm. Then minor convulsions started. "So this is chemo," I remember thinking, "it sucks." I summoned every strength great coaches and leaders like my father (coached my first football team), Mr. Stenz and Bruce Fuller at Central Junior High (in Greenwich), Mr. Packard and Mr. Maddox (Choate) and Russ Mills (P&G), Charlie Prudy, Stuart Brownstein, Bernie Lee (M&M/Mars), Mary Kay O'Conner (NutraSweet) and Peggy Oettinger (Sinclair) ever taught and hunkered down. Thanks to so much care, training and love I could make it.

Only I couldn't. I was having an allergic reaction to one of my most important drugs. For this dangerous moment I was on my own. My infusion specialist was no where to be found, but I wasn't alone. I wasn't alone at all. The wife of the older gentleman next to me got up, walked into the next room and almost carried help over to my now shaking and incomprehensible body. I was somewhere deep and dark. All I could hear was Miles. Miles was playing into a long Blue Ridge Parkway tunnel. Sound came from far away and bounced around a little before settling and moving on.

My nurse moved confidently and rapidly. First the room came back into view, then the nurse then the kind stranger who just saved my life. For some inchoate reason right at that moment I remembered seeing Miles in concert many years ago. I crested the wave, hit the beach and could breath easily and normally again. Thank you I remembering muttering to the nice woman. She kept my gaze, patted my arm, nodded her head and returned to her husband's side. I would learn that the nice older couple were regulars having been to this same room at least once a month for a year.

I realized two important ideas that day almost five years ago. Strangers always save your life. There are strangers dedicating their lives in labs you will never see trying to slay some Goliath who wants nothing more than to step on you and your loved ones as I write this. Those special Davids armed with little more than rocks and rubber bands fight our battles and save our lives just as a woman whose name I can't remember (tough to remember one's own name during chemotherapy) but whose kind pat on my still trembling arm I will never forget saved mine.
Miles' magic is the other thing that saved my life that day. Enduring such Elizabethan horror requires a bucket of hope, joy and magic. Cancer patients and their families must think magically or die, so magicians like Miles are as important as doctors. On September 28th twenty years ago Miles Davis left us, but can a wizard whose horn is playing even as I write this ever really leave? Thankfully the answer is not in the least. I love and miss you Miles Davis. Thanks for saving my life, thanks for creating Miles Davis.

Martin Smith Cancer
Survivor Durham, NC September 28 on the 20th anniversary of the death of Miles Davis.

Related ScentTrail Marketing Posts:
Seeing Miles Davis & Seeing Miles Davis 2 Images are (c) the great Sony Music Legacy site Follow Sonny's Miles Davis Twitter.

Posted: October 02, 2011 by Martin Smith | with 0 comments |
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