By Kermit Driscoll
I'll start this story at the bottom. Sometime at the beginning of last summer I had been taking oral antibiotics for the treatment of Lyme disease for one year and was gradually getting worse. My "Lyme specialist doctor at that time suspected that the disease had gone to my brain and ordered a brain SPECT scan and a brain MRI. Her findings were positive and I was told that intravenous antibiotics were necessary.
I was already very scared about what was happening to me, finding myself unable to function on a gig and worrying about what would happen to my family and home if I couldn't work. As self-employed musicians, if we don't gig, we don't get paid no workman's comp for us. Knowing only that my insurance (Plan B of the musician's union policy) wasn't the best, I called before these tests were done and was told that, yes, they are covered on your plan. The company that delivered the IV antibiotics (thousands of dollars per week) to me also got those services approved by the insurance company.
Well it is only my own fault that I did not know that my plan had a $5,000 per year cap. The day that I found that out, my entire spirit just sank and I think I kind of gave up fighting the illness. I just couldn't see any possible outcome but losing everything I had worked for and even more I felt that I was dying.
During this time I had a lot of contact with other musicians that were dealing with other serious diseases. In almost every case, people had financial disasters to deal with as well. Very often, insurance companies won't continue to pay for long-term treatment. I also met people who had no insurance and had to get rid of what few belongings they had and prove themselves indigent so they could get Medicaid.
Friends would call to see how I was doing and it became obvious that I wasn't physically or mentally well. Two bass players that I have had a long association with as their subs on Broadway, John Arbo and Mary Ann McSweeney, then began an email campaign to raise money to help pay my bills. What happened next is nothing short of a miracle. People showed up at my doorstep with their money, their good will and their music. Letters began coming in the mail with people pouring out their hearts and souls to me, sending me their music and money. Later an emergency fund was established for me at Local 802.
More human kindness and generosity was being given to me than I had ever given anyone. Several people took me to see their doctors, homeopaths, acupuncturists and energy healers and they paid for the visits. There were prayer circles, meditation events and in general just a huge amount of positive energy coming my way. Beautiful musicians wrote music to heal me. Three separate benefits were organized. The last one of those three took place on Jan. 29th and I have not spent a day in bed since then.
That following day, I just felt something different, a kind of hope that I had not felt. I became determined to be well. And I started to get better. Many things have helped, but what has really healed me is the love of such a beautiful community of musicians. I feel really bad about not mentioning all their names here. I am compiling a list that I will put on MySpace, but even that will be far short of a complete list. So many donated anonymously and did so many things that I will never even know about.
I strongly urge those of you that may be reading this now that have inadequate health insurance (or none at all) please to address this very uncomfortable issue. My wife, Michelle has taken a job as a custodian in the local high school in order for us to have good insurance coverage. It is hard work, but she doesn't complain and manages to find joy in it.
Since this is being written as a Megaphone article, what I would like to shout into that megaphone is #1: we urgently need to solve the health care crisis in this country; #2: a never-ending THANK YOU; and #3: a reminder that music and love are the healing forces of the universe. Tax-deductible donations can made to Kermit Driscoll Emergency Relief Fund, Bill Dennison, Musicians Union Local 802, 322 West 48th Street, New York, NY 10036