Tag Archives: virginia

It is not about me: what is important one year after my stroke

One year ago today, at this very hour, my life changed.  I had a stroke, which led to two subsequent surgeries, a Code Blue in medical parlance, and the rebuilding of a life.

A tragedy was on its way to becoming a blessing.  I was less than 40 years old, active physically, and  engaged civically and professionally.  I thought I had the world by the tail.  And I quickly found myself having to re-evaluate what was really important. It has taken me a year to get the courage to even think about what happened to me.

The real lesson is about the power of good people doing good.  It is about the heroes who saved my life, This story is about my experience, and learning that living life successfully is about the impact you have on other people’s lives.

The first — and most important — hero in my life is my wife, Teri.  In hundreds of ways since I fell ill, she has stepped up as a family leader, world-class organizer and communicator, and amazing partner.  Before I got sick, and as much as I hate to admit it, I did not show this hero enough appreciation.  Since my stroke, she has been my constant companion.  One of the greatest gifts the stroke gave me was a better appreciation for her.  I don’t think I can thank her enough.

My family, collectively, gets hero status.  From my own personal security guard — as one of my favorite nurses called my brother, Kevin — to my Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity brothers from William and Mary, who came and waited quietly alongside my wife in those early, trying hours; to my in-laws, whose love and support defy categorization; to my sister and brother from Richmond, who visited me at every opportunity, to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law, who both made so much possible for me; to my colleagues, who went above and beyond for me daily; and including my many uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and aunts who prayed constantly and visited as often as they could.  I saw my health improve as each LIVED more meaningful sermons about  faith than any pastor ever could speak.  I have seen God’s hand at work in my life.

I would also bestow hero status on the enormous network of friends and extended family. Each of them prayed, visited, gifted and carded me back to health.  They showed me love in ways that were inspirational, instructional, and completely humbling. Every one of them did what they could, some even more than that.  Heroes, every one of them.

And finally — but certainly importantly — I thank the entire Centra Health medical team who saved, then rebuilt my life.  Each first responder, doctor, nurse, and therapist is a hero of mine.  I am alive because of their skill and care, and I  owe them the appreciation due heroes.

So, yes, less than a year after I almost died, and nearly left a wife and two young kids – nearly mirroring my own mother’s death before I was a teenager  — I stood before a group of fellow stroke survivors in Danville, VA.  And as I said to my fellow stroke thrivers, I am a miracle, and a child of God.

Thank God for my heroes.  I owe each of them my life, and I will continue trying to live it as worthy of having been saved.  And I pray with the faithfulness of my aunts and friends. Thank God for heroes.  Amen.

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Barack Obama Photo Journal: Lynchburg VA 2008

A brief case study in social networking

REVOLUTION NOT BEING TELEVISED: BARACK OBAMA IS COMING TO LYNCHBURG

This evening as I wrapped up a meeting about a significant database issue, I received a phone call that, at some point in the next hour, tickets for a heretofore-known-only-to-party-hoi-polloi visit by presidential candidate and Illinois senator, Barack Obama, would be handed out at the local Democratic headquarters.

In this region, news is normally traded over morning coffee at the Weenie Stand (no, seriously, that’s what it’s called) or at Barbara’s Dream Hut at the farmer’s market on Saturdays.  Rare is this bucolic place the epicenter of national news, and rarer still is there a need to react very quickly to information you receive through the grapevine.  But today, if you waited to hear about this on television, you totally missed out.  This revolutionary’s visit was not advertised publicly.

So on this evening, with newly-produced adrenaline coursing through my veins, I picked up a client with whom I was to meet, forced her to race out of her home without her keys and moved with deliberate speed downtown to see if we could get passes to our town’s historic evening with Barack Obama. . . in LYNCHBURG.  Are you serious?

I immediately texted my wife, then called her to see if she can drag the kids out of the pool, dry them off, end their swim date, then hustle downtown to get more tickets.  Unfortunately, even though she was in the first wave of recipients of the message, and managed to alert a couple family members, her schedule kept her from arriving at Obama HQ in time, but let me not get ahead of myself.

TWO HOURS, 1,000-plus PEOPLE

While I thought we were privy to truly insider knowledge, received at 5:10 p.m., I was shocked to arrive at 5:35, and find myself standing in a reasonable, but growing queue, of a couple hundred people.  Already, within 30 minutes of the first insiders letting their circles of influence know, their closest concentric circle of influence had assembled.

5:38: I receive a blast text message from a buddy telling me to head downtown for free Obama tix, limit two.  Thank goodness I was already in line.  But it occurred to me that someone who hadn’t even arrived to get his own tickets was telling his entire network about the opportunity.  This suddenly became about social networking.

At 5:40, we were inching toward the ticket table, but had already started to hear rumors that the tickets were beginning to run out.  This was a lie.  First responders simply enjoyed taking a poke at those of us who waited with anxiety.

5:42: A recipient of the same text message I had received text-messaged me to ask if I knew what was up with tickets.  Unfortunately, as I received his message, I was invited to take a brochure from a campaign volunteer.  I made a mental note to write him after securing my tickets.  Knowing I needed to help my Karmic cause as much as possible, I accepted the innocuous propaganda, and prayed silently that it would somehow increase my chances of getting tickets.

Or better yet, getting the last two tickets.  Yes, I am that guy.  Its not enough to get tickets.  I also wanted the distinction of being LUCKY!  Since I couldn’t be FIRST in line, I figured the second best option would be to be last.  Alas, plenty of tickets were left.  Its 5:45 p.m.

5:46: I step up to the table, sign my name promising to show up at the appointed time or to give my tix to someone who would, and finally, I can think about responding to the last text message.

As I exalted in my victory, and repeated the new ritual of ribbing those still waiting in line, I felt the  adrenaline rush out of my body, much like that sensation moments after a big hit in a football game, or the few minutes after a wrestling match (freestyle, not WWE).  Knowing well those in line would get tickets, I felt justified in helping create a sense of tension they would enjoy after getting their tickets.  Tag, you’re it.  Pass it on.

6:00: A slight buzz is going through the waiting crowd of what must now be 400 people, wrapping out of the building, around the corner, up one city block, and around a second corner.  People who must be in the second concentric circle — or two degrees of separation from the insiders — have arrived, skipping dinners, dragging reluctant kids, toting briefcases and whatever they could carry as they raced from their cubicles to lap up whatever tickets their second-degree contacts would allow.

But I need to get back to my client meeting, because we have much to do and loads to lift.

7:00: As my client and I begin charting her path to increased contracts and greater brand recognition in the consulting community, I got a text message from my wife letting me know that they were about 30 people behind the last ticket recipients.

Two hours after the first ticket recipients arrived, in an absolute hush, the last ticket to an unpublicized event was gone.

EVEN FRESH NEWS STORIES ARE HISTORICAL FACT BY THE TIME THEY AIR

The citizens of Lynchburg returned to their coffee and breakfast sandwiches, knowing that if they weren’t within two degrees of separation of the insiders, they may as well have been on another planet.  Now, primed for one of the most significant news events in the area’s recent history, the real story is all but over.

If you’re not using today’s technology du jour, you will miss many opportunities.  Its pretty simple.  Nearly 1,000 tickets to a quickly-organized, ZERO promotion event were gone.  If you want to truly be connected to the most up-to-the-minute action in your community, keep your cell phone on, learn to text, or, of course, work for years to become an insider.  Otherwise, enjoy the news coverage.  Or as its also known, HISTORY.