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The Latest from FW Utah Phillips

Dear Friends,

A dozen years ago I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. At that time I was finding it increasingly difficult to follow my trade. I stopped touring and pretty well assumed that my performing life was over. It was a very difficult time, but we(Joanna and I)with the help of friends throughout the music world kept the ship afloat. Your help was the ark that bouyed us over those hard times. I created "Loafer's Glory-Hobo Jungle of the Mind", a syndicated radio show to make a living in one place. But the underwriting didn't materialize and so I found it necessary to go back to the stage, although in a more limited way. Fortunately through proper medication, particularly cordorone, exercise, yoga, diet and a 3-day-a week cardiac rehab class at the local hospital, I had become stronger, lighter, and more confident of my ability to travel and work. So, I suspended the radio show and all fund raising on our behalf and with the help of Jim Fleming and friends a nd comrades at Fl eming Artists, and of course the folk music community, I went back to work.

Ten years later, I found that the effect of cordorne is fibrosis of the lung. So the cordorone which is a chemical intervention regulating arrythmias was suspended and I got a pacemaker-defibulator installed, The Neo-Luddite has a computer in his chest -Life is fraught with contradiction. The device doesn't control arrythmias, however, and is intended, should my heart rate increase or slow down too much to "restore it a sense of its duty" as Captain Aubry would put it.

Recently I wore a 24 hour monitor to record my heart's arrythmias. I am running aout 34% pre-ventricular contractions, often in a series of four. My ejection fraction (how much blood gets pumped per beat) is in the low 20%. Normal is 60%. The heart is contracting on an empty chamber. I also found, through an examination of my guidant pace maker record that I have gone into extremely fast, arrythmic tachardias at least four times in the past year. The defibulator did it's job and I'm still here. But recently I have experienced great fatigue and have been out of breath a great deal of the time. Unfortunately I have had to cancel two festivals which were very important to me. My ability to continue in the trade has been called into doubt.

One possible solution has presented itself--catheter ablation. An electrode catheter is inserted into the heart so that it lies near the abnormal electrical pathway causing abnormal heart rythms. Heat is passed through it and neutralizes a small area of heart tissue where the abnormal pathway is. The prcedure is intended to mitigate my ventricular tachycardia. There is 75% chance that I can reduce the arythmias by 75%. The procedure will take place within the next two weeks. If successfull, I will continue my performing schedule. I particularly look forward to playing Alaska in Mid-September. If the procedure is less than successfull, I will leave the travelin g life and decide what to do with myself. In any case I look at whatever happens as an opportunity. The future remains wide open. I hope this tract clarifies my situation so that there are no misunderstandings. I am truely grateful for the concern offered me by our folk music family. We will always be together. Please hold a good thought over the next two weeks: I'll let you all know how it works out.


Love & Solidarity,
U.Utah Phillips.
Box1235 Nevada City CA 95959