I love Kenny Chesney. I like all his music, but my favorite album of his is “Be As You Are (Songs from an Old Blue Chair),” released in 2005. It has a very calypso flavor. When I first heard it, I was living through a dreary wet and gray Oregon winter. His song “Old Blue Chair” was included on that album, even though it originally appeared the year before on his album “When The Sun Goes Down.” As the title indicates, and as he sings to us, he “wrote a lotta songs” while sitting in that chair.
His chair is pictured on the album cover. It’s a very shabby chic rattan chair that still has its dignity, at least in the photos. It looks like a chair that you could write a lotta songs in.
I had an old blue chair, too. I sold it last week for fifty dollars. My chair, too, had function and a lot of dignity, at least until its final days, when it was mostly used as a big time-waster parked directly in front of the big fat TV. But before that — before that, the chair was imbued with noble purpose.
I bought the chair in 2018 to put in my bedroom. It would be my Reading Chair. It was often the Heap of Clothes Chair instead, but then I moved to a house with a smaller bedroom, and the chair became a Reading Chair again, parked in my home office. It stayed there, next to a lovely old floorlamp, until I had visiting friends and family in late 2019. Then the chair was moved into the living room, in front of the TV, so that we could all watch “Better Call Saul” together. After my company went home, I left the chair there. It was so comfortable!
Christmas came in 2019, and I led my ukulele group in playing carols at the library. Then my right arm stopped working in mid strum. It hung limply at my side and I was unable to lift it for another chorus of Rudolph. My group just kept playing and I just kept singing. About a week later, an MRI showed the compressed discs in my neck.
My surgery was scheduled for March 2020. A four-tier titanium ladder was inserted into my neck. They do this by going in through the front and shoving your esophagus aside while they clean up your discs and insert the device. Afterwards, there is constant pain for weeks, gradually reducing (I got off the Oxy in 10 days or so). It was hard to do nearly everything, and my body was exhausted and traumatized. My throat and my singing voice are still not the same as they were before. Taking out the garbage and scooping the litter box were the hardest chores to do because of the pain they caused in my shoulders and back. Nearly every moment when I wasn’t performing any absolutely necessary chores, I was in the blue chair. It was a reclining chair, it was a rocker, and it swivelled a full 360 degrees. It was the only place I could be comfortable. Even lying in bed was less comfortable than being in the blue chair.
In June, I received a big clue as to why my exhausted body was so slow to get back to normal. At age 70, I was suddenly bleeding and spotting. Never a good sign. I met with the Ob/Gyn in late June, then with the Oncologist on July 1st, then had a complete hysterectomy on July 6th. For the rest of 2020 and the early months of 2021, I went to chemo and radiation. My belly and pelvis felt like they were made of Jell-o TM. My body was still working on the neck thing!
That little blue chair was a lifesaver. It was the only place I could sit without pain or discomfort. Because my sleep patterns were disrupted by the treatments (not to mention having to get up for the bathroom several times a night), the chair was a great place for a nap. I took many, many naps.
Now, in August of 2022, I’m two years past my cancer diagnosis and two years past the neck surgery. My happiest recovery change wasn’t just my hair growing back curly, but it was the ability to sleep the whole night through again. I never realized before that sleeping all night through (or at least most of it) was one of life’s joys. The neck surgery recovery progressed, too. My arms are working (no more dangling paralysis) and the constant, chronic pain in my shoulders, the tight muscles that never relaxed, are gone. Swallowing and speaking and singing have all improved to near-normal states.
There is no longer any need for daily naps. I can sit in my dining table chairs and my office chairs and my folding travel stools without undue discomfort. So my noble blue chair became the time-waster chair. Parked in front of the TV where a perfectly able woman with Things To Do spent too much of her time. It had to go.
I was shocked at how quickly it sold. I was happy to sell it to a very nice woman my own age who was going to have some surgeries in her near future. The chair will be a respectable working chair again. And I am feeling more respectable and productive, myself.
I may have to write a song!