Blog... what a funny word. Blooogggguuuhh

I have Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Here's why I'm telling you that.... 

March 30, 2018

 

I've never really been one to complain. I mean sure, everyone complains, I don't deny I've had my times where I gripe and vent.; but I've at least tried to be a positive person overall. Even though I'm a musician, singer, songwriter, and performer, I'm an introvert. I have never been comfortable with the self-promotion that is necessary in order to keep playing music and performing. Usually, I only share personal struggles with those closest to me. 

The past several years, I've undergone quite a change internally. I have experienced some of the toughest and darkest days of my life. I've spent a lot of time alone, which caused me to do some serious evaluations of my self and my way(s) of thinking. When your thoughts are all you have left, it forces you to either give up or adapt. I didn't give up, but I can't truthfully say it wasn't very tempting to do so at times. 

I have publicly stated that I was recently diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), but I have tried not to be too negative about it. Sometimes, that is a very difficult thing to do. MS is a bastard that takes everything from you that you've always known, leaving you to fend for yourself entirely. 

Pride in one's self and character is something I've tried to maintain my whole life. That's a tough one as well when you struggle with self-confidence. However, it is worth the struggle because having a certain pride will help you hold yourself to a certain standard of behavior. That being said, Pity is something I have never wanted. I still don't. 

In my self-promotion for my music, I have not shared very much at all about my MS and its symptoms. I've never wanted it to seem like I was trying to “use” my disease for gain. My thinking on sharing some of my struggles with MS has changed some though. 

Since I do try to be a positive influence on the world and those around me, I have realized that it might be encouraging to anyone else out there who has gone, or is going, through the same struggle. Instead of thinking I'm being a “negative Nancy”, I'm now seeing it as just plain ol being real. That's easier said than done. 

It isn't an easy thing to open yourself up and show the world your worst side. We, as humans, try to show how awesome we are doing, give only the best impression of ourselves. One of the hardest things for me to do is roll over and expose my vulnerable spots. 

With all that in mind, I'll be more open in the future about my disease, the resulting symptoms, and the difficulties that accompany them. Never with the intent to whine or complain, but to hopefully show more of what life is like. My intended end-result will be to show others who are struggling that they aren't alone. I hope and pray they will be encouraged by it, and hope that the folks that don't have to deal with such a huge issue can have more understanding. 

Stay tuned! 

Darren

The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Musicians 

Here's my story of some of the things I've had to battle through the last few years. Although I jokingly referred to it elsewhere as a "sob story", that's now how I mean it to be.

You see, my goal isn't to get you to feel sorry for me. Anyone who truly knows who I am will know this is true. Instead, my goal is to be more open. This isn't an easy thing to do for me. It is outside of my usual comfort zone. Being open and vulnerable is what an artist is supposed to be, right? Well, here we go!

 

Rewind back a few years to 2015. I was working full-time as an RN in the Emergency Department of a Level One Trauma Center. I was so very tired all of the time, no matter how much rest I got at home. Maybe it was partly because I was realizing how much my home life sucked and facing the facts that it was only getting worse, not better. Through a long process I came to realize with certainty: The person I was married to was an evil bitch down to her core. A narcissist who got off on causing drama and hurt. A manipulative, controlling, rotten to the core, sick individual who was deceitful, un-empathetic, and unfaithful (huge understatement, as it turns out). This person was a skilled deceiver and liar who had honed those abilities for years. I had finally arrived at the realization that I could not and would not live like this. I'm not a puppet. I'm a rebel who's determined to be me, not what someone else thinks I should be.

I also began to notice other things going on with my body besides the extreme fatigue. My arms and legs would be numb and paralyzed every time I woke up. No matter if I slept all night or if I had a five minute cat-nap. Even though it didn't make sense medically, I sort of blew it off as a pinched nerve or something, which hardly every affects both arms or both legs, much less all of them at the same time. I also found it very hard to concentrate. I realized my job performance was slipping due to things just not "clicking" right in my brain. This was very frustrating, sure. It was also very frightening. When you've got someone's life in your hands, seconds matter. Being able to prioritize matters.

After a year of jumping through hoops with one neurologist, I finally got a great Neurologist who took two weeks and determined I had Multiple Sclerosis. Great. Now I knew there was something real going on and it sounded like he could treat symptoms and I'd be back to my old self again in no time. I started on 14 different medications to help me out, but I kept feeling worse. New symptoms kept popping up here and there and not going away. Some others did go away shortly, then return, but that's the nature of the MS beast, I'd soon find out.

My then spouse would accuse me of using this as an excuse to be lazy. She'd berate me, insult me, and generally use my desire for peace against me. She'd blame me for everything bad that has ever happened (no, seriously.)

I had to leave my job. I just couldn't risk hurting or killing someone.

I had to get the hell out of my living situation. I knew she'd be spiteful and hateful and she didn't hold back.

She made about a hundred grand a year TEACHING NURSING. I made less than half that when I worked, now nothing. I knew it would be hard but it was my only chance of surviving. That is no exaggeration. My life depended on getting away from that fat ass devil.

After years of paying for health insurance for her and her kids, she had to pick up insurance from her employer once I had to quit working. Once I left, she began demanding payment, knowing I couldn't afford it. Finally, she offered to continue paying and I would just "owe" her. She never said exactly what I'd "owe", but, No. She had me dropped off her insurance immediately. We had not even been to lawyers at this point. Throughout the divorce, she was ordered twice to re-instate my health insurance but she thumbed her nose at the law.

I lost my home. She had decided a couple years before to move from the beautiful lake home I had remodeled myself (while working a full time and part time nursing job, and playing occasional gigs) in favor of a tiny rental house that leaked. I wanted the house and was willing to do whatever I could to keep it, even though it would be hard. Things were definitely hard. I fell behind due to my truck breaking down. She refused to let me get my car, which I could have sold and not got behind. She refused to give me other property of mine I also could have sold. The bank saw a chance to double their money, started refusing my payments, then eventually foreclosed.

For a year, I had to be off my MS medications because she dropped my health insurance. She was hoping I'd be sick enough and broke enough that I wouldn't fight back. Having a doctorate in nursing education, and specializing in teaching Neuro, you think she knew what would happen? Of course she did! She's obviously smart enough to know since she has the highest level of education one can get.

Once I let it be known that I had proof of her sleeping with people across the country, she immediately offered to settle the divorce and give me the two rental properties that were previously in dispute. Finally that's over. The divorce is, anyway. Legal charges could soon be filed against her which are pretty serious. Prison may be in her future. She deserves every second of every year of it. That's all I can say about that right now.

My one source of income dried up. I had tried to be responsible so I bought a Long Term disability policy through the hospital. Turns out I needed it. For two years, they were very shady, constantly tried to weasel out of paying, and finally they changed their definitions to prevent paying the claim.

I applied for social security over two years ago and was denied, which they do for nearly all first time applicants. Having the long term claim payment prevented me from getting any help with food. My income was used entirely for surviving, paying cash for medications when I could, but had to just stop taking the medicine which prevents further brain damage. I've gone days without food, and cried being happy when I finally did get groceries.

For the first time in my life, I had to ask for food help from a food pantry. On my birthday last year, I picked up my food box handout.

I finally got to move to one of my rental houses when the bank took my lake home. It was colder than I can remember. Frigid, I mean. I stayed up for days getting things packed up and moved to the new place. I finally got there the heat pump wasn't working. It was so cold. I turned on the water to find out pipes had been destroyed. Once I shut off the water to fix it, the other pipes busted. I had been awake for days working my ass off, now trying to get all this fixed. I didn't try to make things miserable.

I had to entirely re-plumb the house. I've not felt so alone before.

My computer quit working. I couldn't use it to make any money.

My phone quit working most of the time. It was nearly unusable.

Thanks to some good friends, I've got a computer, a phone and I'll be fine.

Hopefully soon I'll be able to start back on all my medicines and feel much better. Until then, I'm trying to use the only thing I've got left which happens to be my passion- Music.

So there you have it! There are some highlights, yes there are so many more things. That's why I need some gigs, need some downloads, need some folks helping with some articles and reviews, or just anything you find you'd like to do to help me make money.

 

 

No more pretending 

What in the world, right?

Here it is: I need your help and I hate asking for it.

Bearing that in mind, I'm also trying to constantly improve myself. I always thought being super-stubborn and rejecting help was admirable and strong. But, I've come to realize that it really just shuts people out. I enjoy helping other people (who truly appreciate it), so I'm sure other people do too!

Here's the sob story, "Best Laid Plans of Mice and Musicians" if you want to hear what's up

 

7 Quick and painless ways to help:

  • Please sign up for my new email newsletter! There's some very intimate things I'd like to share with you but I don't want to do it on social media. This is way more important than you may realize! Thank you so much!
  • I need some money but not a handout!  If you know someone who might be into my music, please tell them about it and ask them to download something (Here's the link straight to my music download page, please share it! 
  • I need gigs I suck at booking. Anyone interested in booking a few gigs for me (or even one), I'll gladly share a percentage or give you free stuff :-)
  • Reviews and opinions I really need some honest reviews, opinions, and critiques to add to my website and my promo package. Just a few quick lines are great! If you don't want your name published, I'll honor that of course!
  • Help spread the word Tell someone who likes music, buy a few CDs to give as gifts and I'll cut you a deal. Bring some friends to see one of my new shows. It is guaranteed to be different than before!
  • BLOG BLOG BLOG Do you blog? Even better, do you write about music you like? I would be honored if you like my music well enough to give it a listen and do a write up on it! I'll help with resources, pictures, music to listen to, whatever. Reach out! If you know someone who writes about music, please tell them about me!
  • Buy a T-shirt Soon I'll have some very cool shirts for sale. Please help a brother out and buy one. Honestly, if I had unlimited money, I'd give one to everybody, but I'm on a poverty diet and struggling to pay for peanut butter over here!
  • Host a home concert Okay sure, this one isn't for everyone. Imagine this: You invite some cool friends to an intimate and personal get-together that only lasts a couple hours. Suggest $10 donation per person (most people will donate that or more) We split those donations;  it covers the cost of snacks and drinks. If someone doesn't donate, it's fine. Feed 'em anyway :-)  I'll put on a show for you and your friends right there in the living room, or in the back yard. At the end of the night, you've had a private concert, had some nice friends over and haven't lost any money. To top it off, you've helped a starving artist. What's more honorable than that?

A Soldier's Advice 

A Soldier's advice 

by Darren Camp 

I have witnessed death more times than I can count. I have stood face to face with death. I have had bloody fist-fights with it; the no-holds-barred kind where anything goes. After all, death doesn't play by the rules. It fights dirty. It is unfair and uncaring and shows no favoritism. All men and women are indeed equal in its eyes, and none will escape it. 

Death itself can not be defeated by man. We wage war against it in obvious defiance of the inevitable. We curse it, despise it, fear it and even respect it, although admitting such respect is nearly impossible at times. We ignore it as best we can; thinking that if we don't acknowledge the truth of its inevitability, we'll somehow escape it. 

The war against death and dying has an outcome that is as sure as the sun rising each morning. Whether we are one of those that remain in denial about it, or embrace the truth, the facts remain: It is appointed unto man once to die. So, why fight so strongly against something we know will eventually defeat us? It is not to win the war itself, but to win as many battles as possible. 

I have no idea how many battles with death I've won. I don't want to know. Deep down, it does not feel as though I've won more than I have lost, nor does it feel the opposite. Based on those feelings, I'm going to have to estimate that I've come out even. 

Even though I do not have an exact number, I can say with certainty that it is in the hundreds, maybe thousands of times that I have fought tooth and nail against death. I have sacrificed my body and my mind to fight for complete strangers. People whom I had never met until death was trying to drag them away. 

I dedicated much of my life to being a good soldier in the war against death. Learning about life's microscopic intricacies, the effects of the behavior humankind has on death, and everything in-between. I have educated myself, I have trained countless hours, and I have learned from mistakes of others and myself. 

Each and every battle I won, you can bet was celebrated. Yet, even as I reveled, there was always a knowing that the victory was temporary; that some time in the future, whether it was an hour later or if it was fifty years later, death would return and would win. 

Now a veteran of that war, I do as other war veterans do. I reflect and ponder, and try to make sense of it all. Perhaps it is to justify the scars or to have some sense of value within my own self. Sure, there are times where bad memories prevail, causing an emotional retreat from waxing philosophical. However, I tend to arrive at the same conclusion no matter which perspective I view it from. 

The conclusion reached over and over is: 

I marched willingly into war against an enemy that is certain to eventually win the battle of life and death. Every single time, without prejudice or judgment, I fought as hard as I could, using the skills and knowledge I had obtained. 

I did the best I could. Not with the illusion that the lives for which I fought would continue forever, but the knowing that these people would have more opportunity to make the most of life. For some, I was able to give them that chance, for others, I was not able. 

Having seen the things I've seen and knowing what I know, I would only offer once piece of advice. That is, make the most of every opportunity you get to bring meaning to the life you are given, take no one for granted, and never think you're guaranteed tomorrow.

Lookin for perks in all the wrong places 

 Darren Camp, March 2017 



The summer of 1986, I volunteered to help the local Civitans put on the annual Dixie Cup Regatta boat race. 

Already the second biggest guy on the high school football team at 250lbs, I suppose I looked like I could work security and that's what I was assigned to do. I was put in charge of only allowing authorized people through the gate by the pit area and keeping people from parking anywhere around the gate. 

The man who showed me to my assigned spot and gave me my “training” told me, “Okay, this is an important place by the pit. If anyone wants through, and doesn't have a Pit Pass, they don't come through here, they don't park here, period. I don't give a shit who it is, no one can park here. I don't care if it is the president of the United States. Can you handle that?” I assured him I could and would. 

Traffic in and out was minimal and most of the morning was uneventful. Suddenly, I noticed a large tour bus turning into the hotel parking lot and heading for the gate where I was posted. I noted that the speed of the bus was really too fast for the area of the parking lot, especially since there was a lot of pedistrian traffic. The bus came to a stop inches from the chain-link fence gate and immediately activated the air brakes, causing a loud “PSSSHHHHHHH!” 

After a long few seconds the side door of the tour bus opened and a man stepped out and began surveying an empty area of the pit, just inside my gate, as he briskly made his way to me. 

“I need you to open up this gate, boy. I'm going to park this bus right over there”, he said, pointing at the unused strip of asphalt. 

“Can I see your pass, please, sir?” I asked him. 

He obviously found this funny and chuckled while shaking his head. 

“We ain't got no pass, son. We don't need a pass. We just need you to get the damned gate open so I can park this bus over there!” 

Remembering my strict but simple guidelines, it was easy to determine my decision, which I unapologetically shared, “First off, sir, unless you have some damned good proof, I'm not your son. Secondly, If you don't have a Pit Pass, you're not coming through my gate. Thirdly, since you have no proof of fathering me and no Pit Pass, you're gonna have to back that damned bus out of here and go park somewhere else.” 

Apparently, this gentleman didn't find my response as humorous as my last one. He became visibly angry and raised his voice and pumped a fist in my direction, saying, “You don't know shit, do you boy? Don't you know who's bus this is? This bus belongs to Johnny Lee!” I was familiar with Johnny Lee and his successful hit, “Looking for Love”, but I've never been impressed by celebrity. Besides, I had my orders. 

“I could really care less who's in the bus. As a matter of fact, I don't give a shit. The only thing I care about is how fast you get this damned bus out of my Pit area”, I explained. He spun around and took a few steps towards the bus before pausing to turn and shake his pointed finger at me and say, “You're in a heap of shit!” 

He stomped up the steps of the bus and I then heard muffled frustrated sounds, which were plainly him recounting the story. It was then that a bright light brilliantly glowed from the tour bus door... uh, nah, not really... but Mr Johnny Lee did come out, both feet hitting the pavement at the same time, immediately followed by two other men. The made a bee-line towards me. 

“Listen here, boy!”, Johnny Lee said to me, “We are parking this goddam bus over there, so open this F*&king gate right now and let us in!” 

I smiled at him the entire time he was talking. When he finished, I answered, “Nope.” 

“You're telling me you ain't letting me in there?” he asked. 

Being the natural smart ass that I am, I replied, “I'm glad you're catching on! I don't give a damn what you say, you will not get through this gate today, or ever. See ya!” 

Mr. Lee poked out his chest as he stepped up to me toe-to-toe and said, “You must want your ass whipped, boy!” 

Not intimidated whatsoever, I said, “How do you think it's gonna look in the newspaper when they print a picture of you on your ass with a busted lip, that silly hat knocked off your head, and those sunglasses laying broken beside you, with a caption that says 'Local Teen whips country singer's ass' underneath it?” 

He then said a thing or two about my mother, hopped on the bus and backed away. I made it a point to continue looking at them while I laughed. I'm not sure if he found a place to park, but I doubt he had much luck. I guess “Love” wasn't the only thing he was trying to find in “all the wrong places”.

So, basically...

 

Expect random stories, ponderings, observations. Expect some goofiness and some shenanigans as well. What can I say, I'm mischievous.

 

Here's a snippet from the book I'm writing:

"I've Already got SO MUCH. What you know about what I know is just a speck. Incredible. The Truth will set you free! 

You are such a terrible, evil person. You hid well for a long time, but that disguise is about to be ripped off. You are a liar, a whore, an abuser and plain evil.

I have all of the proof. I'll never stop spreading the word. The more lies you tell to attempt to counter it, the more of your ugly will show in the end. I have so much proof that your lies won't ever be able to counter them. The world needs to know. You are Satan!"