Monday, April 21, 2008

Going Public-Reaching Out

Dear Friends and Music Lovers,

I first want to say that I hope this note finds you well. It ‘s been a while since OriXa and I decided to take a hiatus from the scene; this was something we all had personally agreed to as we felt we have had a good run for a while and were due a much needed break. Our last release at the end of 2005 “Siembra”, which we were very proud of, seemed to be doing great things for an independent band but, in the end, we were overshadowed by the greater forces of the industry and lacking a strong management team and most of all any financial backing to enable our work to be marketed to reach the masses. “Siembra” did not tap it highest potential. At times we felt sad, frustrated and even angry. Letting go felt very hard but we all took space, went in different directions and decided to focus on our personal lives and interests.

On a personal level, this was no match for what was to come. 6 years ago I was diagnosed with Scleroderma, an autoimmune condition that could potentially take a turn for the worst. I fought the condition with resilience, taking every moment to reflect on life and do my best. On the clinical side I was able to find a specialist who helped me to stabilize the progression of the condition through some severe drug therapy. On the emotional level, family, friends and music played the greatest role in letting me achieve even more stability. I went ahead and pushed forward, trying to live as normal a life as possible.

OriXa was ever demanding and as I started working on Siembra my life was taking another turn…my daughter Kaya was born in April 2003. By the end of 2003 it seemed as though I had conquered my menaces. Kaya gave new meaning to everything. Without her and without the support of my family and friends I think I would have fallen into darkness. As time passed I learned more about my condition and all of its possible scenarios. Undertaking this situation would force me to face the greatest battle of my life.

No one could prepare me for my next chapter. Having stabilized the condition for almost 2 years gave me great hope and I kept on trucking. Early in 2006 OriXa was going strong. We were on the top of things - MTVes was giving us love, we were playing great shows and doing what we love. I was in heaven. Even though I knew I was fighting a monster I was still able to hang in there and do what I was made for, music. Playing great shows with some of our peers, hanging out and playing the Fillmore with Café Tacuba, El Tri, touring with La Maldita, hitting New York, LA and our very own Bay Area. I was breathing it, living it. My life seemed perfect. Kaya was thriving, family life was beautiful and music was there to support me.

Towards the end of 2007 we all started to fade within our circle. OriXa had been at it for almost 13 years, especially Juan Manuel and I. The band and I started to lose momentum and what had begun as a great year was slowly deteriorating, and so was my health. One of the potential issues that could occur with this condition is that it could attack your internal organs. I was diagnosed with a mild form of systemic scleroderma, however, that was not enough to rule out the possibilities for it to turn into something fatal.

2007 began with a strange blue feeling. It was hard to imagine that OriXa would be asleep for a whole year but I was okay with it and it was time to get back to raise my game regarding my condition. I was in it for life so I had to really take the time to focus my energy and pour myself into finding what could make me better. Not having the pressure of the band would give me more time to stay focused.

In April 2007 I started to notice that I was running out of breath rather often. This sensation had started towards the end of 2006 but since I was always a very active individual I didn’t pay much attention. In fact, OriXa’s performances were always praised for the high energy I brought into it. I mountain biked, rock climbed, snowboarded. I never questioned it and convinced myself that I was just a little out of shape. After taking a Pulmonary Function Test it was clear to me that that was not the situation. Reality had struck again. The condition had manifested in my lungs, and a very slow but certain progression was at work. Relentless amounts of tests determined that this was real, and I was put on a new trial of drugs to find the perfect cocktail to stabilize its progression. By the end of the year I had lost 20 pounds in 6 months. This was due to the fact that I had lost 50% of my diffuse capacity, the amount of stretch or expansion your lungs require to function, which makes my body work 3 times as hard, consuming 3 times the amount of calories than an average person. Basically I have turned into a runner without running at all. Breathing has become a very difficult task for me, as I have to move slowly to avoid exerting my system, at times needing supplemental oxygen to keep my oxygen levels up to pace.

I have made peace with my new situation. For awhile I chose to keep it very private. I have now realized that I have actually been isolating myself from the world and from all the things I love. You have to understand that this has not been an easy thing to deal with and that, yes, it took some time for me to come into the light. Feeling angry and pissed off and hoping that I could just take control of it on my own has not been enough. So now I have decided to bring everyone together to help me rise.

A few months ago I started learning about lung transplants and have come to very much contemplate the possibility. I have started to research and found out that I’m a potential candidate for it; I’m in the mist of finding where would this take place but most importantly I’m learning not just about the risks but also the high cost of it, both financially and emotionally. With a transplant costing as much as $800,000.00 this is something beyond what I had ever imagined. Emotionally there’s no parallel. This would not cure me from the condition but would bring me back to somewhat of normal functionality, making me breath hard and strong, allowing me to sing again and, most importantly, to achieve what everyone should have - a better quality of life. Lung transplants are very much at the cutting edge of technology and most people with transplants get to live fuller lives. Within months, in most cases people are back to riding bikes, exercising and having pretty normal lung capacity. Of course, there are lots of risks involved such as rejection and infection, but these are part of the road to take.

I’m writing this to let you know I’m alive, that I miss you all and miss everything I was doing just a couple of years ago, and to let you know what I’m going through. I’m ready to take the leap and I need to create a network of support, emotional and financial and with this blog it is my goal to reach all of you. Dear friends, family, fans, music lovers - help me to brainstorm a plan of attack to make this happen. Let me know where you at I look forward to your words.

Please continue checking in as I will be keeping you up dated with all my findings regarding my situation as well as ways to donate to a fund that I'll be setting up to assist with my medical costs. They say you have to choose your battles, I had not choice in the matter but I'm in full battle mode!

One Love, Rowan “StoneFly” Jimenez

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