The following is a translation of an article written by Carina Durnhofer about Diego A. R. Delfino that was first published in Argentine newspaper La Nación on August 17th, 2018. All the pictures in this post were the pictures included in the original newspaper article. The original version in Spanish is available on La Nacion’s website.
NOTE: Although Diego A. R. Delfino is quoted several times in the article, the quotes were not said by Diego A. R Delfino but written by the author and approved by Diego A. R. Delfino.
He ignored a headache and almost died, but that experience shifted his priorities and he was able to accomplish his dream
“We should not wait until death is near to understand that we have to start living: we need to know that death can be at bay without us knowing. Now is the time to act.”‘
The person making that statement is Diego A. R. Delfino, a musician, producer, and constant apprentice. A man who, despite always thinking of himself as a fighter, understood he had a lot to learn in the path of life.
It all started in 2004, when Diego suffered a concussion during a rugby match. As a precaution, he underwent an an MRI at FLENI institute in Buenos Aires and, although the doctors found no signs of brain damage, they did find a cyst which, fortunately, was benign. The neurologists recommended that he lead a normal life, but to screen it periodically: first, every six months, and then, if the cyst did not grow, every year.
TOWARS FOREIGN LANDS
Diego was a young man of a unique drive; his passions were strong and his dreams were boundless. That is how, between sports, friendship and music, he finished high school without complications and was anxious to start the new stage of his life.
Loyal to the inherent drive of his personality, Diego enrolled in two college degrees: Music and Marketing, the latter with a full scholarship he had earned by winning the OAJNU (United Nations Argentine Youth Organization) Mock Trial contest in the year 2003.
By the year 2007, he already had a degree in music, what motivated him to start teaching music at St. Mary’s International College and conduct the symphony orchestra.
[Although the article stated Diego conducted the symphony orchestra, Diego worked as an assistant in the orchestra while teaching elementary school music and conducting the 6th grade symphonic band.]
Young, hardworking and talented, his potential saw no boundaries and the opportunities presented to him confirmed this. In the year 2008, Diego earned a scholarship to travel to the United States to partake in an exchange program at Louisiana State University (LSU). “It was only for a semester with the option to extend it to a full year. Since I was happy teaching at St. Mary’s, I didn’t want to stay there any longer, but finishing my term, the conductor of the LSU Jazz Ensemble — where I had been selected for one of the soloist chairs — asked me during a concert in front of the crowd to stay there for another semester. I couldn’t say no!” Diego revealed, amusingly.
The exchange program came to an end and Diego returned to Argentina, happy to be home but knowing that he had left part of his soul in the northern lands. That is why when, within weeks of his return, he was offered an academic-merit scholarship to finish his studies at Louisiana State University, he knew that he wanted to return.
“And of course, that is when the cyst decided to make an appearance,” he says. “Right as I was about to travel, the doctors asked me not to do it, because an MRI revealed that the cyst had grown. Thank God, it was a false alarm, although I wasn’t allowed to travel until the year 2010. I confess that when I saw the 2009 end-of-year recital on the internet and saw that they were playing [the music of Argentine composer and bandoneon player Astor] Piazzolla, I felt really bad, but above all I was happy that the cyst was normal. I finally traveled to LSU, I received both degrees and worked in TV and film, which took me to Los Angeles in 2015, three years after graduating. That is when the cyst really became a problem.”
WHEN HE LEAST NEEDED IT
The year 2015 found Diego teaching Sound for Film at SAE, an Audio Engineering school in Atlanta. There, a friend and colleague, Kenneth Lovell, offered Diego to travel with him to Los Angeles to pitch an inspirational symphonic music album to a label called Riptide Music Group.
“I spent many hours working hard and until very late each night to finish the demo. I though it was normal for me to have headaches. I was in Los Angeles only for a few days and I wasn’t going to let a headache let me lose momentum. Hence, instead of going to the doctor, I took painkillers until I could no longer stand the pain and finally had to cancel my meetings and get admitted urgently to the hospital,” Diego recalls.
“The cyst had grown and they had to remove it immediately,” he continues. “The only thing I remember about that moment was the shame of having thrown up in the Uber and the grief having to tell my father over the phone that I couldn’t travel to have surgery in Argentina because, according to the doctor, I would be dead before the plane landed.”
A NEW ATTITUDE TOWARDS LIFE
“I know that I had friends and family in both sides of the world praying for me, that I entered the operating room and went through ten hours of surgery,” he narrates, afflicted. “I survived, but the first portion of the recovery, which I vaguely remember, was very tough: during the two weeks I spent in Intensive Care I had moments in which my health was deteriorating, I contracted meningitis and the outlook wasn’t good.”
However, one day Diego was told that he could leave the Intensive Care Unit and his condition began improving exponentially. To his caregivers’ surprise, his recovery surpassed every forecast.
Upon returning to his home in Atlanta, he finished the remainder of his rehabilitation and, thanks to his constant physical activity, he was discharged from physical therapy very quickly. “I exercise daily and I am one of three organizers of a fitness team for post-production professionals,” he explains with a smile.
Another reason for awe was his cognitive ability, which ended up being very sharp: in two of his tests, Diego received the highest scores the examiners had ever seen. His tenacity, persistence and drive were the key to his resilience and outstanding recovery.
“But the most important aspect I take away from everything I went through was my change of attitude towards life: I am very thankful for being alive and I am very faithful. Although I was upset at first, because I wondered why this happened to me, especially at a time of professional growth, I now understand that it is good that it happened: without this event, I wouldn’t feel as thankful for being alive as I am now,” he reveals.
Shortly after, Diego returned to teaching, to produce music and do sound. He married his girlfriend and love of his life, Kristina. And, just a few days ago, he began a long journey in his car, towards Los Angeles, hired by film composer Evan Evans (son of jazz pianist Bill Evans). He will work as a producer in that city, something that seemed impossible to imagine not too long before.
“I went from being almost dead to earning the artistic opportunity of my life. I was in therapy today and admitted that, if I hadn’t been so close to dying, I would have probably lacked the drive to achieve this,” he affirms. “Although I have always been a go-getter, I believe that this event gave me the strength I needed, and I hope that sharing my story will help others use it in their favor: you can’t wait until death comes near, but instead know that death is lurking without us knowing. Now is the time to be thankful and have the courage to fulfill our dreams. Quoting Evan Evans, who sits next to me at the time of this testimonial: it doesn’t matter where life takes you, with strength, prayers and hope, there will always be new opportunities to live a better day.”