In late October, I sent an email to the manager of one of my favorite heavy metal bands; Iced Earth. I asked about meeting the band at the hospital I'm in. I got a response a day or two later. To make a long story short, the manager emailed the band's bassist, Freddie Vindales asking if he would give me a call. After discovering that the hospital was less than 2 hours away, he decided that he would visit. I was stunned when the manager emailed me to inform me of this. The following is a message he wrote that was posted to the Discussion forum on the Iced Earth Facebook page on November 7th, the day after his visit with me. I don't know why I didn't think to share this until now, but here it is for your reading pleasure.
A few days ago, I got an email from our manager who received a request from an IE fan. He has been in a hospital/rehab facility for the past twenty years due to being on a ventilator, and he had asked if the band could visit sometime. My manager asked me if I would mind talking to him on the phone. That would not have been a problem at all. I looked up where the hospital was and found out that it was about an hour and a half south of where I live. So I decided that instead of a phone call, I’d just drive down and see him in person. So today I headed down from New Hampshire into Massachusetts to see him.
I arrived almost a half an hour later than I said I would because of the Boston traffic. There was a broken down bus blocking my exit from the freeway, and the crazy people down there (we refer to them as Massholes) didn’t make things any easier by driving so slowly. At any rate, I made it to the hospital and found my way up to the room. There I met a man named Chris Webb. He was wheelchair bound and on a ventilator due to having Duchennne Muscular Dystrophy. Other than that, he was like any other cool metalhead, so we got along great from the start. I brought him a couple of CDs. The first was the “I Walk Among You” single and the second was “The Crucible of Man,” but it was the promo version that we in the band got before the album was released. I signed both of them for him. I brought my laptop along because I had compiled some pictures from my travels over the last couple of years, and I wanted to show him some things that really no one else besides the band and crew had ever seen. We went through the pictures, and I told him the various stories that accompanied each. I had fun retelling the stories and he seemed to have fun hearing them. We talked mostly about music and our favorite bands (we’re both huge Maidenheads). He even met Metallica, which I never have. We traded stories about meeting various musicians. He also told me some interesting things about being in the hospital. For instance, his old ventilator didn’t have a battery backup like the one he has now. When power outages would happen, it would take about 30 seconds for the backup generator to kick in. He said those 30 seconds seemed like a lifetime. He also told me how in the past he would be cranking up the music in his room at the hospital, then the nurses would tell him to turn it down because the subwoofer was rattling the floor. I thought that was awesome.
I had only planned on staying about 30 minutes because I had dropped off my wife at the nearby Ikea store beforehand, and I needed to meet her to do some shopping. I ended up staying almost an hour because the time seemed to fly by. Just before I left, one of the nurses was nice enough to snap a picture of us that I sent to Chris as soon as I got home. We’ll definitely keep in touch, and I hope he’ll get to see us play sometime in the near future.
Life of John is Back!
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