If you haven't heard of Adam O'Connor and the mystery illness that's been holding him hostage at Royal Oak Beaumont for nearly three months, get out from under your rock. You're going to need to brush off those troglodytic ways before someone realizes you don't know who Dan Gilbert is, either. The point is O'Connor is a fixture of Detroit. He's been noted as a key player in the promotion of the Detroit music scene as well as one of the best editors Detroit's most dangerous weekly has called their own.
The problem is, we haven't seen him since November. Not many people have. Holed up in the hospital for 74 days (at time of press), O'Connor spent almost two entire months in ICU where he battled brain swelling, spinal lesions, viral meningitis, a collapsed lung, infections, paralysis of the legs, blood clots and various other horrors. He's undergone a tracheotomy and a PEG implant, as well as myriad other procedures. And for the majority of the time he spent in intensive care, he was being incubated on a ventilator, unable to breathe completely on his own.
And despite being tested for just about every strange and rare virus known to modern medicine, even a team of Beaumont's best hasn't been able to decipher just what it is that threw O'Connor's brains, bones and body through such a loop. Although there is one culprit that still hasn't been ruled out.
Though samples of his blood and guts are still being tested by the CDC, doctors, nurse, family and friends have a strong inkling O'Connor is currently suffering the effects of West Nile Virus. And although he recently spent time in New Mexico on a Thanksgiving vacation, none are sure where he might have picked the dangerous disease up.
While many of us spectators feared the worst, O'Connor is pulling through. And after making miraculous leaps and bounds, his health has taken an astonishing turn for the better. Having been moved down to an in-patient rehab unit, he's undergone the removal of his tracheotomy and as a birthday present doctors removed his PEG as well.
Most of you probably already know all these facts, however. A certain well-written, incredibly funny, super sassy and more-than-occasionally-tear-jerking blog has kept us well-informed throughout this tumultuous time. Powerfulbeard.tumblr.com, written and maintained by O'Connor's wife Stephanie, has provided insights, details, photos and feelings with the general public as a means to keep all of O'Connor's adoring fans privy to as much information as possible.
About the blog and the impact it's had on those following Adam's story, Stephanie O'Connor has said this: "The whole intention of starting this form of communication was to keep all family and friends informed - like one-stop shopping. Mainly because I was inundated with questions about Adam's status. And by the time I'd finally get around to responding to your text, call, email, Facebook post or telepathic thoughts, everything was already old news. I also did this for Adam. For Adam, I'm calling this a digital scrapbook. I also did this for me. For me, I am calling this a digital diary and record for when I have to go over dates or reference something a doctor mentioned. It's also therapy."
Many of you may be aware of the fact the hospitalization is not cheap, even for those with insurance. And taking an unplanned leave of absence from work doesn't usually leave anyone in a particularly pretty financial spot. So on 2/28, local artists will come together to celebrate O'Connor as well as raise money to help alleviate the financial strain he and his wife must face due to the ever-mounting cost of an extended hospital stay. To give you an idea of the how quickly the bills pile up, one simple procedure can cost enough to need a loan. And considering O'Connor has had multiple MRIs and spinal taps (just to name a few of his tests), it's pretty clear how quickly the debt piles up.
So, as a means to provide some catharsis as well as a bit of therapy and one hell of a fundraiser, some really fantastic folks are throwing one hell of a party that's set to benefit the beard as well as his beautiful wife.
With the help of the Howling Diablos, Awesome Jarvis & The Whales, Citizen Zero, Amy Gore & Her Valentines, Superlast, The Infatuations and Jennifer Westwood & The Waycross Georgia Farmboys, O'Connor's friends, friends of friends, family, friends of family, family of friends, acquaintances, co-workers, admirers and beard-lovers will unite. And if we're lucky the guest of honor might even be able to get a pass from the hospital and make an appearance himself.
And considering a semi-paralyzed man who's only recently begun to recover from West Nile is expected to make an appearance, we're betting you've got no good excuse to not be there yourself. Considering the damages those who forgo the party might accrue, we highly suggest you make it your top priority to attend.
"Thanks to all and hope to see you on February 28th," says Stephanie O'Connor. "Or I will stab in you in the eye with a knife. I will be there looking for you."
We're (fairly) sure she's joking about the ocular lacerations, but even if she weren't, would you really miss an opportunity to help and cherish Adam O'Connor? We didn't think so.
The Powerful Beard Benefit • 2/28, 7 p.m. • The Magic Bag • 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale • themagicbag.com • 248.544.3030 • minimum $10 donation