Throwback Thursday: Handling Adversity

Pedals And Effects is a website designed to help and inform other like minded musicians navigate through an ever changing music industry. Whether it's the evolution of gear, the record industry's decline and modern reinvention, or information on how to handle life while being a musician, Pedals And Effects is here to help other musicians.

I personally have shared my thoughts on "over-use syndrome" and the exercises I adopted to help manage my injuries. Today's Throwback Thursday post goes back to 2007 when I was diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called Polycythemia Vera. 

There is no way to prepare for news such as when your doctor tells you have an incurable disease. I remember thinking to myself "how incurable?" while the doctor explained what is essentially a blood cancer. When you hear the word cancer, your mind goes into fight or flight and I kept thinking I would be one who would beat it.

The challenging part was at the time The Mars Volta was recording The Bedlam In Goliath and I remember thinking, "how am I going to keep my mind the music and not on this bad news?" l thought it was a good idea to write to my friends and family in this bulk email:

"Hello to all of my friends and family,

I have recently been diagnosed with a rare blood
disease called Polycythemia Vera.  It is classified as
one of the Myeloproliferative
disorders.  Myeloproliferative disorders are an
overproduction of platelets, white blood cells, or red
blood cells in the bone marrow, which may result in
serious complications that include enlargement of the
spleen and liver, anemia, bleeding, stroke, heart
attack or leukemia.  The survival rate varies greatly,
from 3-20 years depending on the type of disorder and
which complications ensue.  You can read more about
them here at

I am contacting you all because my disorder is
considered an orphan disease meaning it affects fewer
than 200,000 people.  These disorders have been
noticeably underserved with respect to research
funding.  You can help me and others living with this
disease by donating here

I am doing fine right now.  My doctor (Dr Michael
Rosove UCLA Medical Center) has recommended I begin
treatment immediately.  I will be be on a drug called
Hydrea to get my blood counts to normal levels.  I
have been told that most patients do not experience
any physical side affects from this treatment.  

This is just the beginning of my attempts to raise
money and awareness.  I will keep you all posted on my
fund raising endeavors and progress.



After I wrote this email, I remember not feeling better because I thought maybe people would not look at me the same. I wish I would have waited because when this first wave of anxiety hits you, you're not at your best judgement. I then told myself I would just take everyday, one day at a time...and that is how I have handled my life since that day of day at a time and every day, I have to put positivity at the forefront. Though not always easy, I believe I have kept the complications at bay because I work out (which helps keep your mental stress at ease), I have a great family life with my wife, Anne, and great friends. You just take it all, one day at a time and not let life overwhelm you. 

I recommend you do what you were put on this earth to do, everyday of your life. I play and listen to music every is my support system. Pedals And Effects is an extension of this system, as are all my musical endeavors and projects.  What keeps me young and healthy is playing every show as if it were your last day on this planet, and putting all of your best abilities into every single one of your recordings. Never let adversity get in your way of performing or doing what you want to do. I watched Brad Wilk check his blood for his Type 1 diabetes while playing in front of thousands of people on our recent Juliette Lewis European run. Brad inspired me every night and I believe I inspired him and all these are just bumps in the road of life. Handle that adversity with strength and grace.