Health and taking it seriously… and Black History Month…
Today I woke up to the most interesting phone call. It was from a daughter of a friend of mine. I had been thinking of her since I had not heard from her for a few weeks and we usually try to touch bases with each other at least once a week, if we can. But that just does not always happen.
So, yesterday evening while waiting on my son, I decided to give her a call and received no answer. So, it was a pleasant surprise to see her number pop up on my cell phone when she buzzed me back this morning.
The good part was that she had not been sick…well… She hadn’t had to go to the hospital this week. Yes, I did say this week.
Very early on she had begun having to deal with a series of health issues. Many of which most people would have just given up and gone and crawled into a corner…but she didn’t.
It has been a fight for her…weekly…and I have no doubt daily. But she has remained strong through it. And that is really the best part about speaking with her because through it all she has managed to smile and laugh her way through it…every single episode. She always continues to see a brighter side.
I could not imagine myself having to deal with heavy health issues which have invaded her body since she reached womanhood. For one thing she has what Bernie Mack had Sarcoidosis. I don’t really know what that is…but it can cause sudden death and is considered a mysterious medical disorder.
But Vee, and I don’t often call names, also lives in Chi-town…that is Chicago for those of you who do not know what that means…just like Bernie Mack had. She started off our conversation telling me how she has been fighting the severe Chicago cold and the frosty wind blowing in off of Lake Michigan. And then she began to tell me about her ex-husband and how he was recently put into a hospice.
This was a guy whom when she was a high school teenager every other word that preceded out of her mouth was his name. It was his name and his name only. I thought it interesting after years of having lost contact with her family…and upon finally becoming reconnected with them due to the death of her uncle, Tyrone Davis…whom if you are old enough know him by his hits…such as “Can I Change My Mind” and “In the Mood”…I thought it interesting that she had married him.
It was clearly a bad and most severe case of ‘puppy love’…and Vee had it bad. She adored that boy. And it was interesting that someone whom she had adored so much she did eventually marry. But through the years it had not worked out and eventually they got divorced only to find out that they liked each other well enough to be friends. And it is nice when people can do that. Break up but yet be able to pull and salvage something out those years together…and they did…and it was especially good because they had a child together.
Vee told me that he was now placed in this hospice suffering from having cancerous tumors all through his body.
Warning signs are so important…but nothing beats a regular check up. Even I am guilty of not always wanting to go to the doctors on a regular basis. As I never get sick…but never getting sick doesn’t mean you don’t need to ensure a healthy you.
At the end of last semester when I was just finishing up with all my classes…after carrying 18 credits for the semester…one morning my right hand began shaking uncontrollably. Since, I had to do a presentation in a few hours…I just thought I was becoming nervous or something.
But near the beginning of my second class on that day…my right hand began to freeze up on me. It would lock up and I could not open it…nor could I do anything with it. By this time I knew it was something more than just possible nerves bothering me..and I began to think I was near to having a stroke or either a heart attack. So, I immediately knew I needed to leave class to get to a hospital.
Have you ever had any warning signs?
Did you take heed…and realize that your body was trying to tell you something?
It is true…our bodies are like fine tuned automobiles…and when you start to hear some noise…well…in our case something starts to act up you better go and get it checked out. I understand being fearful of hearing bad news.
But what is worst?
Hearing the bad news while something can still be done…or hearing the bad news when it is too late to do anything about it?
I will never forget Mrs. Ripperton, Minnie Ripperton’s mother, who used to be a member of 6th Grace United Presbyterian Church in Chicago…down on Cottage Grove and 35th Street. She would talk to me sometimes about Minnie and how much pain Minnie had been in before her death. (Minnie’s daughter currently stars on Saturday Night Live…Maya Rudolph…who obviously has both of her grandparents sense of humor. That Mr. Ripperton was so so funny…and Mrs. Ripperton called him ‘Rip.’ They were a great couple. Wonderful family…Elaine and all of them. I remember them all well.)
One day Mrs. Ripperton held out her arm and said-
“You see this…Minnie could take her arm and beat it against the table and not feel anything. That’s how hard her arm had become and how filled up it was with all the pain.”
I had known nothing about cancer…but that day Mrs. Ripperton told me something about it that has stuck with me through the years. And I knew from that day that cancer was something I would never want to get. But illness is hard no matter what it is that people have…and by hard here…I mean difficult to deal with.
So, it was interesting to me that Vee would have called me giving me the information on how she had been staying up talking to her ex-husband over the phone…praying with him and reading the Bible to him. Though she said he really didn’t want to hear it…but she would read it to him anyway.
Many people say that they don’t want to hear it…that they do not want to have anybody telling them anything about the Bible or any more people coming to in to pray over them. I have heard it…but when nothing else can help…you’ve got to learn how to call upon the name of the Lord.
A friend of mine in New York became very ill. I had not seen her for a while. So, one day I decided to run by her house which was only a couple blocks up and just around the corner from me.
When her mother answered the door she told me that Jackie wasn’t feeling well…yet, another name that I have mentioned in this blog…but this blog is filled with so many people if I didn’t I call a name or 2…or 3…you would become confused. When I went up stairs and her mother opened Jackie’s bedroom door to allow me in…I was horrified. I was looking at death and I knew it.
Jackie was not even a shell of herself…her lips were a bright red…her complexion was very very dark…all her weight was gone…she was curled up in the fetus position…and when I approached her…I said immediately-
“Let me go get Shirley so she can pray for you.”
Jackie refused speaking in a very low and slow voice saying-
“I have had a enough praying for me. I don’t want any more prayers.”
But I kept begging…I was afraid for her and the only thing I knew to do was to go get somebody who get a prayer through to God. I was not saved…but I knew the power of finding someone who truly could get to God’s ear. Finally, Jackie consented.
I ran down the street and through the door open to Shirley’s real estate office and said-
“Shirley, you’ve got to come. You’ve got to come and pray for Jackie. You’ve got to come.”
Shirley got up and rushed out of her office leaving her secretary to handle her clients. And we both rushed back up the street and around the corner.
Shirley had brought with her…her oil…and as she went into the room she began praying and anointing Jackie’s body with the oil. I stood rubbing Jackie’s feet trying to pray as much as I could in agreement with Shirley as tears ran down my cheeks. I cried for my friend…and I prayed for God to spare her life.
Shirley soon left but I continued to rub Jackie’s limbs…and before I left some time later… first I saw a toe move and then she stretch out one of her legs slightly. Jackie was coming out of that fetal position. And I could see strength coming back into her body. Thank God for Shirley and the power of prayer.
Today, Jackie is doing just fine…and I have no doubt that she will never doubt the power of prayer ever again. It truly does changes things.
But I understood Vee’s ex-husband being bitter and angry over his illness. He is young yet and a death sentence has been pronounced over his head. That has to be harder than hard to deal with. And then to be placed in a hospice…the ultimate declaration of death upon him.
But even in that state God is able to turn his situation around.
Which brings me to another story…since when I had tried to reach Vee last night and couldn’t…I decided to buzz someone else. Tanya…and again I rarely called people’s names in these blogs…but sometimes I just can’t help it. When you come upon outstanding people…it is worth calling out their names.
At first I thought I was awaking her from her sleep as her voice sounded funny…but she told me no. She had just gotten out of the hospital…and she informed me that she had been there for an entire week. Her lungs had filled with fluid and she had suffered a bad asthma attack…but while in the hospital she had shared a room with a woman whom she told me had been very ill.
But it is the treatment of the woman by her doctor that Tanya really shared with me. Tanya said that the doctor had been so coarse with the woman who was…laying on her death bed. He told her that they had the papers from her health proxy to not resuscitate. Tanya said the doctor was not kind or caring at all in his words…and that when he left the woman felt even worst.
But Tanya told me how she encouraged the woman by saying-
“Don’t worry, ma’am. He doesn’t know. You might not need to be resuscitated at all. Can’t no doctor tell you when you are going to die. You might even out live him.”
Because of the various medical plans that people now have to have in order to be treated…most medical facilities feel they no longer have to treat you with any type of respect, dignity or courtesy. After all once you give them your card number they already have your money…it is as good as in the bank. And this is a sad commentary but true.
The medical field has gone to the dogs and pit-bulls…private companies have gone into the medical business as ‘for profit entities’…much like many prisons have also done. They care nothing about trying to save people or making them better. They would have you come back and forth a hundred times…while pretending they are checking on this or checking on that. While all the while they are just eating up your medical benefits. It is sad…quite sad.
But isn’t it funny how God puts people in the right place at the right time. Every now and then we all need someone in the right place…at the right time to encourage us when we are going through a rough time in our life. And oftentimes…these people know and have not just a sense of who God is…but a true relationship with Him as well.
One morning a couple of years ago, I woke up with a pain to my lower back area. It was a very severe pain…so much so that whenever I moved I would scream out in pain. As the day progressed the pain progressed…it got worst. I could barely stand, walk, turn or lay down without that severe excruciating pain getting the best of me. I, however, prefer to suffer pain rather than to take any type of medication. So, I endure things until they pass…if they pass. Thus far God has blessed me usually…they pass. But this problem kept on growing worst. And it inhibited me…I could not make the slightest move without screaming out.
I had to push myself through this pain and it was very hard. But I decided to drive into New York and to go to church. While in the car the pain was bad but I didn’t let it stop me…and the funny thing about it was this. When I got to the church and walked inside the pain was gone. As if it had never been. It was gone throughout almost the entire church service and I thought it had left me entirely. And it had…up until the time the service ended. And slowly the pain began to resume.
That night I decided to stay over in New York with mother. Yes, the one I have written about in several of these blogs who recently passed near the latter part of last year. Mother enjoyed my company. And I…well, I enjoyed hers as well. She was a very funny and witty woman…but she also loved the Lord and she possessed much wisdom. I loved talking with her as she was well versed on everything from politics to the latest news topics of interest…as well as, the Bible.
She would often ask me to stay or come into New York to spend some time with her after I had left the city to return home to take care of some family matters. But most of the time I would not…I did not want to infringe upon her or our friendship…though I knew that she did not mind. But occasional I would stay over…and this was one of those times.
By the time we had reached mother’s apartment…my pain was almost totally back and occasionally I would screech out in pain. But by morning it had gotten far worst…I barely got up off the bed…and when I did I knew I would not be able to lay back down. So, I could not lay down and nor could I stand. It was terrible…and I was at mother’s house to make it even worst.
Not wanting to worry mother over my condition, I decided I better go to the hospital. Mother and I had lived around the corner from each other…and the hospital was right across the street from her apartment. So, I made my way out the door…into the elevator…across the street and into the hospital where I told them upon stepping up to the reception window-
“I can’t stand and I can’t sit…I think you need to lay me down somewhere.”
And they immediately admitted me into emergency and they sent a person around to me to take all my information once I finally was able to get into a laying position.
A fairly good-looking doctor came and began servicing me…and eventually he told me my problem. I had a slipped disc. When I asked him about how I could get it fix…he told me I couldn’t. He said that the disc has to slip back into place on its own. I was in such pain…that I was willing to go up under the knife to never have to find myself back in this state again. And that was rare…because I usually say no to such things…to operations if I felt I could live without them. But every time I moved I was screaming out in pain that is how severe the pain was. And I could do nothing. So, yes…there are times when even I start to sing a different tune…and this was one of them.
The doctor had an ‘i-v’ hooked up to me and they began to feed me muscle relaxers and pain killers to cause the pain to subside. And while laying there down there in a stall in the emergency room one of our church’s prayer warriors came in. It was Sister Capers…this blog is filled with names today. But she too has since passed…and I am sure she would not mind me calling her name as I celebrate her. (though I doubt that calling any of the names in the related blogs would have bother any of my friends…but I just prefer not to)
Sister Capers had a long badge around her neck and said that the hospital allowed her full access to walk around to talk and pray for people. She touched me and began to pray for me. But it was the sight of seeing her…a friend come into that emergency room and stepped into my curtained off area that meant so much to me. It was something I had not expected at all.
The pain killers and muscle relaxers began to work too…and after a few hours they released me giving me a couple of prescriptions…which I did go and get filled immediately. And this time I took some of that medication…a couple of times in fact. But I found it to be exceedingly strong. And after taking it…yes, it helped the pain in my back…but I was left feeling sick to my stomach…in fact my stomach would be cramping.
So, I stop taking the medication. Some medication today will correct one problem…but leave with something else to deal with. If that be the case…you should seriously weigh your options.
What good would it have been for me to relieve by back pain (a temporary condition)…only to have burned a hole through my stomach?
Finally, the pain left…or rather I guess I should say….my disc slipped back into place. But without having been at mother’s house I probably would not have gone to the hospital…nor would have known exactly what my problem was…and Sister Capers would not have been able to pay me a surprise visit and then pray for me. I am happy that I elected to stay the night in New York.
So, you see in this blog that I have some friends who are going through some trying life circumstances themselves…yet because of their walk and faith in the Lord…they are bigger than what they are going through. They have managed to turn what many would say should have been their tears into smiles. And in the process they have not been too pre-occupied with their own health issues to not be able to reach out and comfort others in their time of need. I think that this is wonderful…and I thoroughly enjoyed talking with them as they shared their stories with me.
I do know some phenomenal people…they are special in every possible way.
I just could not let this day go by without sharing with you something about them.
After looking at these videos of the Whispers…I now regret having not gone through and done that ‘Headlights’ Concert which I had booked them for. But when the tickets didn’t start moving…and the venue called telling me that if I didn’t rush in there with the advance ticket money and bring in all the tickets that we had put out there in the various locations…that they were going to cancel the show. I felt was left with no choice.
So, as much as I didn’t want to make that call to L.A…I did. I actually dredded calling L.A to have a conversation about cancelling the show…2 days before it was to take place. But I did it. I called the Whisper’s manager and told him that I was forced to cancel the show. And this is what he said to me in response-
“What do you mean you are being forced to cancel the show? It’s your show…your money. They can’t force you to cancel your own show.”
And you know what he was right…it was my show. It was my money…not that large auditorium but my money that was on the line for that show. The venue hadn’t bought the radio time for the spots…or placed any newspaper ads announcing my concert. I was the one.
No, I was the only one invested in that concert…and I was the only one who stood to lose anything any kind of way it went. Because I was the one responsible for paying everybody…including the venue…though I had already paid them a portion of it…that was not going to come back to me even after the cancellation.
But it was too bad I called the Whispers last…I had already pulled all the tickets…cancelled the remainder of the radio ads and then had the radio stations to start announcing that-
“Tomorrow night’s concert featuring the Whisper’s Headlights Tour is cancelled.”
That is when I realized I had had a slave mentality. I had let that white man who booked the events at the auditorium dictate to me the lost of a very very large sum of money. Something which will never ever happen to me again. It was a life experience…and life experiences are made for us to learn from.
There are times when we can block our own success…by failing to believe in ourselves or what we are attempting to do. But if you start a thing…you should be big enough to see it through. Don’t try to second guess yourself. Either do it…or don’t do it. But do not kid yourself by starting something that you are afraid of seeing through.
Monday is President’s Day…so if you are one of those fortunate ones…I know when I worked in radio there no such thing as a holiday…particularly if you were at the low end of the totem pole. But if you by chance you are one of those who does have the day off enjoy it.
Isn’t it wonderful…we now get to really celebrate that day. I mean not that there were not other presidents who were great…but mostly they became great by being thrust into some difficult situations that forced them to make during their times some very hard decisions. But isn’t it interesting how being forced to make hard decisions can often work out for the good…when the right choices are made. And make you great…as opposed to being ‘just one of.’ Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy and Johnson may all be considered to be great Presidents because of the times and the decisions they were forced to make…and Washington simply because he was the first.
Abraham Lincoln did not really have a great love or passion for the freedom of slaves. But he did recognized the danger that continued slavery caused to the union of all of the then 13 states, that at that time made up the United States of America coming together. Slavery was the issue which tore the Northern and Southern States apart. So, it made sense that slavery was the thing that had to end in order for this country to be able to move forward in order to be able to tackle the other events and things that a growing America would come to face as a united nation.
It’s Black History Month…and I certainly salute it and celebrate it. There are so many great people…inventors, doctors, lawyers, writers, news journalists, actors, orators, wise people, civic leaders, religious people, hard-working decent black people who were purposely left out of the history books of this country. I think it is time to right that error as well.
The road was not easy but they carried the torches anyhow… knowing that one day a change was going to come.
Well, God bless…
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