18 Weeks

Featured

At 18 weeks an unborn baby is about the size of a bell pepper. 7 ounces. 5 1/2 inches. I only mention that to remind myself how short 18 weeks actually is. On one hand, it seems like forever. 3050 hours. On the other, it’s just a flash in time, a blink of the eye.

On one hand, it’s crazy how much has taken place. I still find myself getting lost in it all. Wondering how I survived? Why I survived? What if I hadn’t gone to the chiropractor? What if I hadn’t set an alarm for 7 am that Tuesday and had slept until 9 am? There is a very real chance I would have missed the two strokes that Tuesday morning, just as I had missed the previous dozen, and based on what every doctor has said, I wouldn’t have survived the next one.

I find myself wondering what my funeral would have looked like. What will it look like? Who would go? What songs would be played? Where would Domino and Graycie Mae have ended up? Would it have been painful?

These aren’t really thoughts a 35, now 36 year old should have. Nor are the bills or the medical chart. I shouldn’t constantly question before falling asleep if I am wearing the right boxers in case I’m once again not able to put on anything else before the EMTs arrive. Is my house halfway decent just in case? Does the house I’m moving into this weekend have ample access for an EMS truck or paramedics? Is this headache a stroke headache or a new headache? Coincidentally the stroke headaches now cause less of an internal alarm than the new ones. Yes, there is a difference. Yes, I can very quickly tell you exactly which it is. Yes, a stroke headache is less of a concern for me now and the new headaches are what raise an internal alarm.

I have tried to not mention “stroke” as much because I am sure my friends are tired of hearing about it, but I’m sure not 5 minutes goes by without something in my body causing my brain to scream STROKE. I’m not saying I think I’m having a stroke all of the time, actually the overwhelming majority of the time I now feel fine, however, very little time passes without some pain or noise in my head reminding me of it.

I was warned in the hospital that the majority of stroke survivors become depressed and at the time I couldn’t understand why. After all, I was going home, without a walker, in spite of the physical therapist suggestion I have one. Sure I was going to have meds and bills, but who cares, I’m alive. 18 weeks later, I get it, my mind doesn’t stop going over the what if’s in my head. I find myself consciously making decisions about random everyday things based on the fact that I could be a ticking timebomb and at any second my brain or heart could go rouge.

If you can’t already tell, I’m using this blog to vent a bit. It’s not at all dark clouds and rain drops. I am so much better than I was. I finally feel healthy a good majority of the time. This is not in the past yet for me though. As long as I am taking all of these meds, as long as I am still under doctors care, as long as I still have the prospect of invasive procedures, as long as I can’t just lay down at night without wondering “what if”, this won’t be in the past for me. It may be easier for me to not mention it all of the time, but it’s still at the front of my brain and on the tip of my tongue. I’m better at catching my balance quicker, finding words a bit faster, and knowing my limits, but just because others don’t see these things as easy, doesn’t mean I’m not still fighting like hell to not trip over my own feet sometimes, or find the next word that’s on the tip of my tongue but just won’t come out.

Next week I will attend my first Stroke Advisory Council meeting in Columbia, the DHEC council I was appointed to in January. My bio is full of boards and committees, but this is by far the most powerful council I have ever served on. The by-laws and mission statement are almost overwhelming. It’s something I’ve looked forward to since my appointment; being able to sit in a room, on a council no less, with doctors and medical professionals from across South Carolina, implementing policies and procedures for South Carolina hospitals on how best to deal with stroke patients, making decisions about granting hospitals stroke facility certifications, levying fines for hospitals that break the rules. I’m very excited to put my experience to good use and be in a position to vote on policies as an acute stroke survivor.

Next week I will also attend my first GHS Stroke Advancement Committee meeting.  Then in May, which is Stroke Awareness Month, the South Carolina Hospital Association Journal will feature a story about my last 3050 hours but mostly focusing on the three weeks in November/December that changed my life.

The last four months have taught me a lot about myself. I’m not as easily broken as I thought and at the same time, I’m way more fragile than I ever imagined. I’m getting through it. I’m getting better. I’m still not there yet though — and that drives me crazy.

3nottrans

Advertisements

MetroBurger – A Review

Anyone who knows me, knows two things about me;  I like eat out too much & I LOVE a good hamburger!  So imagine my excitement when I noticed the new MetroBurger on Woodruff Road in the same location as the Jack in the Box that closed a few months ago.

Yesterday Louie and I decided to try it out for dinner.  The first thing I try to figure out about a burger joint is if their burgers are hand pattied and based on the pictures at http://www.metroburger.com, they certain appear to be.  The first thing we noticed upon our arrival was the old Jack in the Box signs that are now just shells around the building.  Louie noted those should be removed or fixed.  Once we opened the door I think we were both sort of surprised.  Neither one of us was expecting a Wendy’s type fast food restaurant, but that’s exactly how it looked, just without booths.  Just some tables and chairs sat around.  No TV’s or radio.  Just a few tables.

We walked up to the counter to order and it was very clear at that point that the employees are minimum wage earners.  No one seems happy to be there.  Everyone had a subpar appearance and the person taking the order seemed less than interested in listening to us, more in a hurry to get us out of her way.  One of the things I like about Five Guys, especially Cherrydale, is they seem happy to be working there.. they seem to enjoy their job; these employees clearly hated it. We had to repeat our order twice because she didn’t get it right the first time and she even seemed surprised we wanted two drinks? Another thing you notice is all of the hanging wires behind her from where the Jack in the Box food windows have been removed.  She gave us our cups, which are unbranded and we went on our way.  Instantly we noticed the most surprising thing of all… the dining area… it was filthy.  The floors were greasy and there was food everywhere.  The trash boxes were full and the tables were uncleaned and nasty as well.  The couple that sat down behind us were complaining about how nasty it was as well.  I think everyone eating there seems surprised.

Once our food was ready we dug in.  I ordered The John Doe (pictured) and Louie ordered a burger and we split the Sweet Potato fries.  My burger was smoking hot, Louie’s was cold.  Both of our burgers were on old bread, by old I mean not fresh.  Fresh bread does not crumble and taste stale.  The Sweet Potato fries however, were pretty good.  We quickly ate and then got out of there.  Once I checked in everyone was asking about the place.. well.. here’s your answer.

I can’t say I would recommend it.  I think most places deserve a second chance but it would be hard to imagine MetroBurger improving to the point I would go back anytime soon.  I do know MetroBurger’s are francise locations, so I likely would try a different location.. but this location is no better than a Wendy’s and more expense than a Five Guys.  While it looks cool on the outside, I think it will soon suffer the same fate as the previous Jack in the Box.. and be closed.

2 Stars. (They only get the second star because it was a handpattied burger.)

Where are you?

Do you live in the purple highlighted area above? If so, there is a very important election in your area next Tuesday, June 12th. The best candidate needs your support, both financial support as well as support at the polls! Lillian Flemming is locked in a tight race to become the next Senator representing the citizens of SC Senate 7!

A Greenville native, Lillian graduated from Sterling High School, graduated from Furman University with a bachelor’s and master’s of education and taught at Southside High School for 23 years. Elected to City Council in 1980, she has served as Mayor Pro Tem and is currently Vice-Mayor Pro Temp of Greenville City Council.

The list her accomplishments goes on and on… but I’m not supporting her because of any of that. I am supporting Lillian Flemming for Senate because I know she is the best candidate. Lillian is one of the nicest, most down to earth, honest and sincere people you will ever meet. When I stepped into Greenville politics, Lillian was one of the first elected officials to welcome me. In the years since, Lillian has always been someone I could ask questions of, share my opinions with, and go to with any concerns in the City. Everyone loves downtown Greenville and everyone loves just how beautiful Greenville has become; let’s thank Lillian for serving on City Council and making tough decisions that put Greenville where it is today.

Too often once people are elected they have a “better than you” attitude and become disconnected and out of touch with voters. Lillian has never been that way! Lillian always goes out of her way to say hey to everyone, listen to everyone’s opinion and make sure everyone gets fair and equal treatment.  You can pick up the phone now and call Lillian, and she will answer or call you back within a day.  That is just the type of public servant she is!

Join me in supporting Lillian Flemming for SC Senate 7 on Tuesday, June 12th. Beyond that, please consider making a contribution to Lillian online at www.LillianFlemming.com/donate/ As with most local races, just a small contribution can go along way – $10, $20 or whatever you can give – would be greatly appreciated.

 

 

You’re Invited!

You all know how I am when it comes to fundraising for causes I believe in or that are really close to me.  Last year I a goal of $1,000 for The Julie Valentine Center (formerly Greenville Rape Crisis and Child Abuse Center), and thanks to my friends, many of you, I raised over $2,000!

This year I am on the run2overcome committee at JVC and we’ve just opened the site for public registrations. This year my fundraising goal is $3,000, but with a little twist.  In addition to being the top fundraiser again, I’d like to also have the largest team.  That’s where your invitation comes in.  I’m not inviting you to run or walk, I’m inviting you to a roof party at my condo.

Everyone always wants me to throw a roof party.. and when I do I always forget to invite someone… well… this time you can invite yourself.  All you have to do is sign up to do the 5k or 10k.  The run isn’t for months so you have time to train.. and I’m telling you now because I know a secret.  If you register NOW on the site you can do the 5k for just $15 and the 10k for just $20. So go do it NOW! It’s easy, just follow this link: http://julievalentinecenter.myetap.org/fundraiser/run2overcome2012/team.do?participationRef=3871.0.158785566  Once you are signed up I will give you details on the party.  It will ask you to set a fundraising goal amount, I would suggest $100… but you can do whatever you wish… furthermore, once I have a group signed up I will set up a tour of the facility with everyone so you can learn where your money is going and what you are supporting.. it is a VERY worthwhile cause!

So, please go sign up, the team name is Running With Friends.  If you know for sure you can’t, or do not want to run, please consider making a contribution.. $50 would be nice, but give whatever you can give!

Bring your own wine!

For the last few months I had watched Grant Lankford check-in at Adam’s Bistro like he lived there!!  It seemed like every day he ate lunch there and even had his Metromix Twitter Talk picture shot in front of their building.  So a few weeks ago when Rich and Jil invited me to grab lunch with them at Adam’s Bistro.. I was there!  Rich was talking about how awesome their food is and the place in general.

I knew the place was in a strip mall.. and assumed they had a few good sandwiches… etc.   A few months ago Jeremy and some of our friends went to Asheville for the weekend and ate at this place that everyone raved about.. it too was in a strip mall.. and it was AWESOME!  So I tried to ignore the strip mall thing and just go with it.

When you walk in, you forget you are in a strip mall.  The decor is great, the lighting is low, the waiters and waitresses are all extreamley nice and most are nice to look at… and the menu has much more on it than I expected.  I had a meat and three and we all said the food was great.. and we’d be back.

This week I have been there twice for lunch and last night for dinner.  The coolest part is taking people that have never been and seeing how surprised they are!   Last night David said “I think my momma is in the back cooking!!”  Everything was great!!!  One thing we did notice is that EVERYONE that came in last night had a bottle or two of wine!  They do not serve wine or beer but you can bring your own with you.

So do your self a favor… grab a bottle of your favorite wine (looks like most people had stopped at Trader Joe’s on the way) and go have a great dinner!  If you see Chris or Teresa say hi! (the owners).  Teresa stopped by our table for a few minutes last night…  she is just as nice as the place is!  Also make sure you check-in.  I’m targeting that Mayorship!

One more thing.. I made the comment last night that the ultimate compliment from me is taking food home.  I don’t do leftovers.  Well… rarely do I eat leftovers from a restaurant.  Last night I would have taken my food home.. but I ate every last bite of it there.

Two is better than one.

So you know I’m trying my hardest to raise money for The Julie Valentine Center (The Greenville Rape Crisis and Child Abuse Center).  So this morning I dropped off a check and the Executive Director, Shauna Galloway-Williams was nice enough to show me around the place a bit……

Now I am even more determined.  It is one thing to raise money for a charity that deals with child abuse victims.. it is another to actually tour the facilities that they use.  I was stunned and moved.  The picture you see is of a pair of shoes that Shauna gave me to take and help remind everyone, myself included, just who I am raising money for.

So here is the deal.  Everything that is donated today is matched, dollar for dollar, so give generously!  Donate at: http://julievalentinecenter.myetap.org/fundraiser/run2overcome2011/individual.do?participationRef=3871.0.72882412

-J

ps. if you make a contribution and are interested in a tour, lemme know.

#1 is a bad thing…

Greenville County ranked #1 in child abuse and rape incidents in South Carolina last year.  #1 is not always a good thing!! The Julie Valentine Center, formerly The Greenville County Rape Crisis and Child Abuse Center, served 516 children in 2010 alone.  Of those, 85% were sexually abused! 361 were girls and 155 were boys.  406 were under 12 years old.  An additional 236 adults called the Rape Crisis hotline and 166 were seen for counseling services.  JVC responded to 96 Emergency Room calls to support rape victims and ad 8,303 education programs in 2010 alone!  All with a budget of only $900,000., thanks to the over 10,000 volunteer hours put in.

A lot of numbers huh? Well lets make it simple.

1

If me raising money helps just 1 child or rape victim then bugging you to donate is worth it.  And if you giving $25 (or more if you can), helps a child that has been a victim or child abuse, or a rape victim.  Then it should be worth it to you too.

Please make a tax deductible contribution: http://bit.ly/pthkff

A huge THANK YOU to everyone who has donated so far, but especially to Alex Lila &Jacqui Lanier, Andy Arnold, Kim Keable, Ryan Montgomery and Frank Hillard.  All of which gave over $100 each.

You choose to see what you want to see.

I could write ten blogs all with that same title.  Be it about life, love, luck, work or anything else; we choose to see what we want to see.  We all see things from our point of view and very very few of us are ever willing to see things from others points of view or put ourselves in others shoes.  We get upset when the waitress doesn’t remove the lemon from our tea or smile correctly.  Never thinking that waitress may big dealing with something far bigger than your lemon in her head…. We are a very egocentric society.

This blog is about something we all see daily, but really never see.  We literally visualize it but never fully process it… at least not for what it is.  And in our worlds of “my life is hell”, “that isn’t fair”, “why can’t I do that”, “works sucks” we fail to see just how petty, stupid and immature a lot of things are.. we fail to see the big picture.

I’ll admit, I am not a big picture sort of person when it comes to a lot.  I can see big picture politics.. but past that, I rarely look past now.  I am always thought life is way too short… you need to live for today, not tomorrow.

Yesterday morning, one of my friends and I got up at 7am and rode our bikes. (yeah really, 7am).  I met him at the park under Academy but I had left from my condo.  I rode though by the YMCA, though Cleveland Park and into Falls Park.  As I rode I passed a group of kids in a summer camp, a few people walking their dogs and one of two joggers.  The trail is dead at 7am.

As you ride into Falls Park from this direction you take a short ride on the street that runs between the park and the Governors School.  During the day this can be a headache but yesterday morning there were just two cars.  One was a City of Greenville vehicle and the other was a small compact car, actually the exact same car I drove growing up.   As I approached the car I noticed it was packed… from floor to ceiling and from window to window.  Once beside of the car I noticed a silver screen, like you would put in your windshield on a sunny day, was wrapped around the front drivers window and the windshield.  I instantly thought, I bet someone is sleeping in the car, but continued on and really didn’t give it too much thought.

We rode to Furman and back, I left my friend at the park and continued toward the condo.  As I came through the park it was much more crowded, a lot of people had ventured out and it was now close to 9:30.  People were walking around with their kids and there cameras, shooting pictures of the Liberty Bridge and our award-winning city.  There, in the middle of it all, likely in some of those pics, sat that car, now with the screen down.

As I turned onto the street I was now facing the car and approaching from the front.  Sitting in the car was a lady who looked rather rough.  It was clear she had slept in the car, and I would assume, based on her appearance, the cars appearance, and the fact that it had been there for hours at this point, I would assume, she is homeless.

Over the years I have heard several people say Greenville doesn’t have a homeless problem, if we do they are in the Berea area.. the Travelers Rest area.. they stay near the Triune Mercy Center or the other shelters on the north side of town, but homeless people don’t hang out in Greenville.

Part of that is reality.  The City of Greenville police that patrol Main Street, patrol Main Street.  That is all.  They know the merchants and those of us who work downtown, and they know the homeless people.  They do their best to run them off and keep them out of our view.

But the other part is we choose to see what you want to see.  Homeless people are all around us.. and trust me.. more and more people are becoming homeless every single day.  We do see them, we just choose not to think about it.  We would rather complain about where to eat, who hurt our feelings and why our dogs want to go out so much rather than be thankful for what we do have.

Even if you don’t do anything to help these people…. at least acknowledge they do exist.  They deserve at least that.  I would argue they deserve a lot more.. but looking at the big picture.. we have to start somewhere, and acknowledgement is always the first step.

Downtown Curfew

Last week I posted a blog about the downtown curfew (click here for previous post).   Since then City Council has taken the first step to making the curfew permanent.  Last week in a 4-3 decision, the council voted to make the temporary curfew and permanent curfew.  In an effort to ram this curfew through the Mayor had the issue placed agenda during a special council meeting for a 2nd vote.  (3 votes are required).

There are still a number of questions and opinions about the curfew.  One of which is its Constitutionality.    The curfew, as written, does not allow for a special exception for a protest.  Lets suppose there is a candle-light vigil in downtown that last until midnight.  Are teens not allowed to attend?  Are they not allowed to protest?  If not, this is most like unconstitutional.

However, it seems rather than extend the curfew or wait before making a vote, Knox White and his other pals would prefer push it through and then have the City of Greenville pay our attorneys to fight it in court, remind anyone of RiverPlace or the smoking ban?

On Monday, the council will have a work session starting at 4pm and immediately following the work session will be the special council meeting, making it hard for people to know when to be in attendance.   YOU ARE ALLOWED TO SPEAK OUT!  Last week not a single person spoke up about the curfew.  Tons of people have told me that they disagree with it but NO ONE spoke during the meeting.  On Monday morning I will call the City Clerk and find out what the process is for speaking at a Special Council Meeting.  Typically you must arrive 10 minutes before the meeting, however there is no set time for this meeting which makes that hard.   Once I find out the details I will post them.

EVERYONE SHOULD ATTEND THIS MEETING. (more details soon)

@JamesAkersJr