Words by Brendan Dangelo.
Below is an email Big Heavy World received from Brendan Dangelo of What Doth Life, in Southern Vermont. We’re passing it along for the sake of sharing the opportunity to participate in some good work being coordinated in the Windsor area, in support of a Southern Vermont member of the Vermont music family.
“Hello Pal of What Doth Life,
Perhaps you have been a part of one of our comps in the past, or played a show, or we reviewed you, or played you on our podcast. Any which way, you have been picked out to be a part of this mass email so that I can tell you about my best friend, Kiel Alarcon, guitarist for Derek & The Demons, The Jobz, etc etc. etc, host of the WDL Podcast, producer/ engineer, app builder, and general cowboy.
Around a year ago, in July, Kiel and I set out to hike Mt Ascutney located on the eastern side of our small town of Windsor, VT. We got a late start and headed up around 4 PM. We decided to avoid the trail, because that’s not where the cool stuff is. When you get out into the middle of what you don’t know, the climb is strange and pre-historic. We made it to the top in a little bit under two hours. Kiel didn’t bring a water bottle. Over 3,000 feet and Kiel did not take a drink of water, but I wasn’t surprised. Kiel had spent the year previous biking from Windsor VT to Hanover NH (around 50 miles a day) to and from work. Kiel even got recognized for racking up more miles than anyone else in a National Bike Day Challenge (check that out here). Kiel was in the best health I’d ever seen him, and he is a badass.
Three days after our hike and Kiel was riding to work on his bike. As he crested a hill he started feeling exceptionally dizzy. He fell over and a passerby called an ambulance. Kiel went to the hospital and it was thought that perhaps this was stress induced. He went home, but still did not feel well. His body was numb. He went to another hospital and had a second opinion. After tests, it was found out the Kiel had a centimeter sized tumor on his spine. The tumor ruptured and the bleeding out is what caused the numbness that went over Kiel’s body. Kiel remained in the hospital. It was decided that surgery was the best choice, but it would be complex and complicated; dealing with the electric motherboard of the spine there are a whole lot of chances for things to go poorly. What would happen after the surgery? Would Kiel be able to walk again?
The day he went to surgery, there was a long collective holding of breath. Kiel, his family and friends didn’t know what things would be like on the other side. A lot of faith was put into the hands of doctors and surgeons. And that collective breath had to be held long and hard, for the surgery ran 12 hours. Halfway through the day, I started getting manic phone calls from Tim, a pal (and drummer in the WDL collective). He had driven past Kiel’s parents house. It was on fire. The street was lined with ambulances and fire trucks. A faulty light fixture in the basement caused the basement to burn up and flames and smoke reached all the way to the top of the house. Thankfully, no people or animals were injured in the fire. It was insane. Kiel is surgery and his parents house on fire on the same day.
The next day as Kiel emerged from the haze of surgery, it was apparent that the road to recovery would be long. Kiel was unable to move his feet. Perhaps some of this would be changed as the healing went down. Kiel spent a few weeks in the hospital and then moved to a facility in Boston to do rehabilitation. It was over three months of rehabilitation and Kiel is able to walk, but has nerve issues and numbness in the bottom half of his body. He has complications from his blood pressure (due to being too healthy). To this day, he is still working towards recovery. Early this summer, he was happy to be able to return to work and with some flexibility from his employer was able to split time working from home and in the office.
Things were going well, until recently Kiel’s job found out funding had not been secured. Kiel was recently informed that his position would be ending. Kiel is continuing his search for a new job, but expects to have expenses during the upcoming months and is unsure how long it will be.
TL:DR “My life sure has sucked the past year. ” – Kiel
I am hoping that those of you that know Kiel, may have interacted with him through WhatDothLife or are just generous folks might be interested in submitting a song for a benefit comp we’re going to put out for Kiel in October. It will be posted on bandcamp with all donations going to Kiel. If you know others that might be interested in supporting Kiel, please feel free to share this and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kiel has also mentioned that he will be putting a compilation together of music that he has been a part of, too. When this is out, I will share it. Thanks for reading a very long email. Hope you are all doing nice stuff.