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Drummer Jake Najor’s major scare

“If I hadn’t have gone to the hospital, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.”

Jake Najor is happy to be drumming again, and even happier to be alive.
Jake Najor is happy to be drumming again, and even happier to be alive.

Last summer, prolific drummer Jake Najor (Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, Big Daddy Kane, TV On The Radio) began feeling ill. Thankfully, he decided that a trip to the ER was in order. “I’d been sick for a few days, and it just didn’t seem like I was getting any better,” Najor says over the phone. “I felt really bad. It turned out that I had pancreatitis and gallstones and was going into sepsis. If I hadn’t have gone to the hospital, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.”

His condition took a turn for the worse almost immediately. “By the second day, they moved me to the ICU for a week. I didn’t realize what was going on, because I was in a daze. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know the extent of it.” Najor spent the next three weeks at Sharp Grossmont, being carefully monitored and bombarded by IV antibiotics. (Sepsis is a life-threatening infection complication.) Once he was transferred out of Intensive Care, he began a slow recovery. “They told me I needed gallbladder surgery, but my pancreas was still swollen. My kidneys were also in bad shape, so I was on dialysis.”

The setbacks were frightening. “I thought I might be on dialysis permanently, which sounded really bleak. I’m 44 years old, and having so many health problems was tough to deal with. This was before the Delta variant surfaced, so I was really lucky that my girlfriend, my friends, and family were able to visit me, and that really helped.” Najor’s girlfriend Sabrina Paul was a constant presence, and his best friend Kelly Collins set up a GoFundMe account which raised close to $40,000 to defray the costs of recovery.

He has no complaints about his time in the hospital. “They did everything they could. They saved my life. I could have died, even though I was in the hospital.” (Indeed, sepsis is one of the leading causes of death in hospitals.) “I had very good care, I was treated very well there. They made a made a very bad experience more bearable.” Najor was released in August and, after convalescing at home, he returned for gallbladder surgery in October. “That went really well. They sent me home the same day. I was a little sore for a week, but no complications. Everything went smoothly.”

And there have been positive changes since he recovered. “I feel better than I have since I was a kid. I have a lot more energy, and I feel like I have a new lease on life. I’ve lost close to a hundred pounds by completely changing my diet around, and I’m making a concerted effort to stay healthy. My labs are looking much better now.”

Now, Najor is returning his focus on music. “I had done one gig before surgery, and then I waited until mid-November to start back up. I’ve been doing gigs ever since. At first, they weren’t super long or taxing, but I just did a four-hour show the other night and I was fine. So, you know, my stamina is pretty good. Everything has changed. My outlook on everything has transformed. I feel so much better about myself. I am way more hopeful for the future. I am much healthier now, and I’m going stay that way.”

Najor has started a new trio called Iota featuring David Carano on guitar and Ricky Giordano on bass, with a standing gig every fourth Sunday at Liberty Public Market. He doesn’t feel especially vulnerable in public, even with all he’s been through. “I’m still pretty cautious. I wear a mask and I try to avoid big crowds. Most of my gigs have been outdoors. I’m back, and I’m boosted. I’m doing everything I can to stay safe.”

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Jake Najor is happy to be drumming again, and even happier to be alive.
Jake Najor is happy to be drumming again, and even happier to be alive.

Last summer, prolific drummer Jake Najor (Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, Big Daddy Kane, TV On The Radio) began feeling ill. Thankfully, he decided that a trip to the ER was in order. “I’d been sick for a few days, and it just didn’t seem like I was getting any better,” Najor says over the phone. “I felt really bad. It turned out that I had pancreatitis and gallstones and was going into sepsis. If I hadn’t have gone to the hospital, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.”

His condition took a turn for the worse almost immediately. “By the second day, they moved me to the ICU for a week. I didn’t realize what was going on, because I was in a daze. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know the extent of it.” Najor spent the next three weeks at Sharp Grossmont, being carefully monitored and bombarded by IV antibiotics. (Sepsis is a life-threatening infection complication.) Once he was transferred out of Intensive Care, he began a slow recovery. “They told me I needed gallbladder surgery, but my pancreas was still swollen. My kidneys were also in bad shape, so I was on dialysis.”

The setbacks were frightening. “I thought I might be on dialysis permanently, which sounded really bleak. I’m 44 years old, and having so many health problems was tough to deal with. This was before the Delta variant surfaced, so I was really lucky that my girlfriend, my friends, and family were able to visit me, and that really helped.” Najor’s girlfriend Sabrina Paul was a constant presence, and his best friend Kelly Collins set up a GoFundMe account which raised close to $40,000 to defray the costs of recovery.

He has no complaints about his time in the hospital. “They did everything they could. They saved my life. I could have died, even though I was in the hospital.” (Indeed, sepsis is one of the leading causes of death in hospitals.) “I had very good care, I was treated very well there. They made a made a very bad experience more bearable.” Najor was released in August and, after convalescing at home, he returned for gallbladder surgery in October. “That went really well. They sent me home the same day. I was a little sore for a week, but no complications. Everything went smoothly.”

And there have been positive changes since he recovered. “I feel better than I have since I was a kid. I have a lot more energy, and I feel like I have a new lease on life. I’ve lost close to a hundred pounds by completely changing my diet around, and I’m making a concerted effort to stay healthy. My labs are looking much better now.”

Now, Najor is returning his focus on music. “I had done one gig before surgery, and then I waited until mid-November to start back up. I’ve been doing gigs ever since. At first, they weren’t super long or taxing, but I just did a four-hour show the other night and I was fine. So, you know, my stamina is pretty good. Everything has changed. My outlook on everything has transformed. I feel so much better about myself. I am way more hopeful for the future. I am much healthier now, and I’m going stay that way.”

Najor has started a new trio called Iota featuring David Carano on guitar and Ricky Giordano on bass, with a standing gig every fourth Sunday at Liberty Public Market. He doesn’t feel especially vulnerable in public, even with all he’s been through. “I’m still pretty cautious. I wear a mask and I try to avoid big crowds. Most of my gigs have been outdoors. I’m back, and I’m boosted. I’m doing everything I can to stay safe.”

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