composer, conductor, trombone soloist

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New York, Los Angeles, Stubenberg, Vienna, USA, Austria
Ed Neumeister’s profile is the result of long and deep experience. As a performer he has been at the forefront of Jazz for more than 40 years developing a unique voice. Having also worked with high level classical orchestras and ensembles nurtured his focus on conducting and composing. He knows what the musicians need because he was there.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Back from Hell… no, not a gig….. Just came back from an unexpected and unplanned journey to Hell, or more specifically Lyme Disease (neuroborreliosis). The adventure began last July with a rash on my ankle. The doctor said it was probably nothing and gave me some cream to put on it and said come back if the rash doesn’t go away in a couple days. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a typical Lyme rash, which I already new about from living in Westchester County New York. The rash looked like it was fading at first, but then after a week it was clear it wasn’t going anywhere. Doctor #1 on vacation, so off to doctor #2. By now I was feeling a strange sensation above my left ribs. This doctor didn’t think it was anything and that the burning sensation in my rib area was probably a pinched nerve from playing tennis. He made a blood test to look for infections from ticks and other bugs etc, negative, I should just stretch some more. But the pain just kept getting worse. Fast forward a couple weeks the burning pain in my abdomen area got progressively worse making it impossible to sleep, so off to the emergency room, for some pain killers and more blood tests. Nothing, but needed to see an internist ASAP. Saw the doctor the next day. More extensive blood tests as the pain got increasingly heavy. This was a nerve pain, feeling something like an intense sunburn all around my abdomen, which made laying down painful on whatever area I was laying on. The only relief I could get was in the bathtub, so I took a bath every two hours. Pain medication wasn’t really working. After one more tortuous night and a pleading text message to my doctor for HELP! She called me into her office to tell me I had neuroborreliosis or Lyme Disease, the kind that affects the central nervous system. She basically checked me right into the hospital into the Neuro or brain unit. At this point I was in too much pain to pay much attention to my surroundings. Intravenous antibiotic and pain killers, but the pain medication did not really work and it totally messed up my stomach, so in addition to the nerve pain, I was dealing with some serious stomach pain. I Had it Bad and That Ain’t Good. The doctors said that two or three days of antibiotics and the pain will go away and I can get on with my life. Well…. Three days later, the pain is getting worse, I’m not able to sleep through the pain until I fall asleep out of exhaustion, up the whole night pacing the halls, in between showers (oh, the relief). Then, I started to lose movement in my right arm. Now, I couldn’t brush my teeth or feed myself with my right hand without help from the left. For a trombone player, that’s not too cool. But the doctors said I would make a full recovery and I believed them, so I wasn’t worried, too much. By this time, once it became clear that I would be there awhile, my wife brought my computer and my music manuscripts so that I could work. I was right in the middle of a film-scoring project, so I sat in the hospital bed, day and night, in between bouts of pain, and composed for the film. It’s great to have something positive to focus on at times like this. Occasionally, I would get inspired to compose more “creative” music, sometimes coming out of the delirium of pain and painkillers. Luckily, I had my trusty music notebook to transcribe and log my ideas. I must say I had one or two very creative inspirations there in the hospital. I’ll be following through on those ideas soon. Once I started paying attention to my surroundings, I felt like I was in a surreal “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” setting. Remember this is the brain unit. There was the guy with a big scar all across his forehead watching TV in the TV room all day. The guy across from me was clearly “crazy”. No, that’s not nice. He was quite nice but clearly had some issues (who doesn’t right?). My other roommate was dying from an ear infection that spread to his inner organs. Wow, we don’t think of these things unless we are confronted directly. Eye opening. I met a very nice woman who was a lawyer. She had Parkinson’s disease. She couldn’t control the movements of her arms and legs. So when she walked her arms, legs and head were waving around uncontrollably. It was scary at first until I started talking to her. To think I was feeling sorry for myself! Turned out I was in for two weeks total, and, another week of daily visits to get my intravenous antibiotic. But still the pain has only subsided a little. Thankfully, the movement of my arm returned after a few days, whew. The doctors said, as I checked-out that they hoped not to see me again, but that it would probably be three more months before I was “normal” again. They were right, as it turned out. On to a Neurology specialist, Chinese acupuncture and herbs, Qigong and physical therapy and a strict, organic only, diet after extensive in-depth Lyme Disease research. I managed to finish and record the film score without delaying production. Featured lot’s of trombone playing. Sometimes as many as five overdubbed. Playing the trombone was painful because of the nerve damage in all my breathing, except the most vital, muscles in the diaphragm area but I managed to do it. Most of the trombone breathing muscles were not functioning due to the nerve damage, so I had retrain myself to breathe with the few muscles that were still available. Didn’t tell the director I was sick until after we finished. He was very happy with everything. The film is called “Yes, And…” Hopefully will come out this year. Of course it’s a romantic comedy. A horror sci fi would have been more appropriate for my situation. Now, about five months after the beginning of the pain, I’m 99% back to normal. Whatever normal is. About two weeks ago it was like the fog (of disease) lifted, it was quite a sensation, like everything got clearer all of a sudden. Still doing Qigong and trying to eat only organic food as much as possible. The pain is gone. It’s great to be back! Thanks for reading. Please visit my web site, and let me know what you think. Ed I’m here for the music.