The coach who saved my life

Dr. Kim Playfoot walked into my hospital room like a breath of fresh air. She was tall and blonde, full of jokes but was no nonsense at the same time. She introduced herself and sat at the end of my uncomfortable hospital bed. “You are lucky,” she said. “You have suffered what we call a minor stroke, but in my mind there is no such thing as a minor stroke. A stroke is a stroke. Here is what we’re going to do. We are going to take care of you and I know you are going to do everything you can to get better. I know you will. I believe in you. This is a team effort. Our joy is going to be the day you walk out of here and go home to your family.” She then turned to my wife Abs. “I know you are worried about him. I know you are strong. But I need a favor from you. No looking back. Do not rehash what he did or did not do in the past. We are looking at today and toward the future.” I loved this woman. I wasn’t being lectured by a doctor. I thought I was getting a game plan from Vince Lombardi. So I gave her the nickname “Coach.” I suffered an ischemic stroke which restricted blood flow to the brain. It is similar to a heart attack. In fact back in the day they called strokes brain attacks. She said it was a close call between life and death. She showed me a 3-D image of all the vessels and veins inside my brain. They were all healthy and free flowing, sort of like the Lodge at three in the morning. But there was a weak broken down vein on the left side. The blood flow in this vein became sluggish like I-94 during rush hour. I lost my ability to speak and my fine motor skills which made it difficult to type or wash myself. This vein has probably been like this since childhood. It was a ticking time bomb waiting to explode. Here is where luck came in. If that vein became clogged instead of sluggish I’d be dead or paralyzed. A few days ago we suffered a horrific loss in sports media world when Jamie Samuelsen died at the tender age of 48 of colon cancer. Jamie sent a message to all. Get a colonoscopy. It is not that bad. I come with a message also. Watch your sodium or salt intake. That is what landed me in the hospital. Read the labels at the super market. If something has 800 milligrams or 1,000 milligrams of sodium you should probably leave it in the store. Order the small fries instead of the jumbo fries. Or ask the restaurant to lightly salt your fries. Sometimes we ask for no seasoning. I have a new side chick. Her name is Ms. Dash – a no salt seasoning that I put on chicken, beef and vegetables. I even found a low sodium Memphis style rub when I smoke ribs or pulled pork. I found it at the Eastern Market and it is just as delicious. I used to believe that most strokes were caused by high stress. That is not true. Sodium is the main culprit. So watch it. Do you know what one of the more dangerous meals are? Soup. Soup is loaded with sodium. Coach also told me I needed to lose weight. She said people who walk around with big bellies are more prone to sickness. I lost 46 pounds. I do not have a wash board stomach but it went from puffy to a little pouch. So let’s lose the stomachs too gang. Coach got up to continue her rounds. There were other patients to see. She’d be back the next day to check up on me and monitor my treatment. Thank you Coach.

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Published by terryfoster8

I am a 58 year old retired sports journalist, husband and father of two living outside of Detroit in search of his next big adventure in life.

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