With the release of his breakout CD By My Own Light in March 2013, Mark Eagleheart was on his way to becoming one of the more easily recognized figures on the Taos and northern New Mexico music scene. His robust physical stature, Choctaw good looks, easy smile, low-pitched warbly ballads and tall black cowboy hat proved to be crowd favorites at the occasional paid gig, at numerous open mikes and in various cameo guest appearances with various other artists at venues around northern New Mexico.
On September 9, 2015, Mark uncharacteristically paused in the middle of a 2-step at the Taos Mesa Brewery. His dance partner saw his face go white and his eyes lose focus. Sweat poured from his face. He was disoriented and confused for a several minutes. After cooling off outside, he returned to continue dancing with diminished strength in his left hand. He became increasingly uncomfortable over the next few days. Pain in the left side of his neck became unbearable and he became unable to close his left hand. On the evening of September 13th, a trip to the emergency room at Holy Cross Hospital in Taos led to being transported by helicopter to the Cardiac Care Unit at Swedish Hospital in Denver where a surgeon inserted stents to relieve 90+% occlusions in two of his three coronary arteries.
A skilled fine art painter, auto mechanic and building trades craftsman, Mark had crafted a livelihood prior to his heart attack with a collage of these skills. Increasing debility in his right knee as a result of a severe injury 20+ years prior led to knee replacement surgery in July, 2007. During recovery from the surgery, a heavy fall on a mop-slick floor in a local Taos restaurant damaged the new knee joint and injured his neck and right shoulder, in both of which advancing arthritis was already limiting mobility. The pain resulting from the combined effects of advancing arthritis, the physical effects of having strongly favored his right side for more than 20 years, and from the damage done to his mechanical knee, right shoulder and neck by the fall combined to severely restrict his ability to work with his hands. A second surgery to rebuild his right knee joint was performed in 2013.
When he returned from Denver to his off-the-grid home east of Taos up Taos Canyon with instructions from the cardiologist to limit strenuous activity to walks on level ground, he returned his routine reality of splitting and carrying firewood and hauling and carrying 40+ pounds water bottles on the irregular and sloping ground around his home. The first water hauling excursion landed him in the emergency room again, this time with debilitating muscle spasms related to the advanced arthritis in his neck.
On the advice of his doctor, Mark has moved into an apartment in Taos on a 6 month lease for for the winter. His doctor has told him to it will likely be at least 12 months before he can safely resume regular physical activity. Medicaid has largely covered his direct medical expenses, but the inevitable other unexpected and uncontrollable expenses that arise during recovery from a major illness, when added to the rent on his apartment in Taos and the basic cost of everyday living, are substantially greater than his disability income can cover. Mark needs help covering his expenses beyond the 6 month term of his apartment lease though the 12 month health transition to a life and livelihood that he can physically manage.