Over the weekend one, final small branch fell near the driveway of our home.
That’s OK because I was able to move it out the way in short time. The last time branches fell it took nearly two weeks to clean up. Our neighborhood was the victim of a small but powerful storm that uprooted trees and fired very large branches at our house causing roof damage that still needs to be repaired.
I missed the storm. It only lasted about 60 seconds, but it was a dandy. I was reading in the basement when my wife Abs and son Brandon began to shout excitedly that “trees were falling all over the place.”
I of course told them they overexaggerated things, that no trees were falling. Then the house shook violently and I decided to see what was going on.
They were right. Trees were falling. We were lucky. The small but violent storm simply bent trees in half on our property causing branches to break, splinter and fall. I took a walk around the neighborhood and saw trees pulled from the ground. Three trees leaned against a neighbors house. One tree lay across a street near us.
And one poor woman surveyed her house trying to figure out how she was going to remove the five trees from her house. One poor guy had a branch pierce his roof and fall on his favorite easy chair. Thankfully he was not sitting in it at the time.
I tell people who live in Detroit, Ferndale and Royal Oak about the big storm and they look at me as if I am wearing clown pants.
“What storm,” they say. “Are you sure?”
This storm didn’t even hit every neighborhood within a mile of ours. It was like a small wild cat that hit some places and skipped over others. One man claimed he saw a small horizontal tornado. Everybody just laughed at him.
A more believable explanation is we got hit by powerful straight line winds. No houses were damaged unless a tree fell on them.
We are back to normal now. I now have enough firewood to last me for five years.
Now I must apologize to the wife and kid for not believing their story.
Today I celebrate another anniversary.
I used to be a type 2 diabetic. But this marks the two year anniversary of being diabetic free. My medication the last two years has been diet and exercise. After I suffered a stroke three years ago I was also diagnosed for the second time in my life with type 2 diabetes.
I shot 20 units of insulin in my belly every morning to control blood sugar levels. I was determine that I was not going to live the rest of my life like this. During treatment class I always remembered a cartoon of a guy driving a convertible with a red flag flowing in the wind. The caption said “you are in the driver’s seat.”
In other words I controlled whether I was diabetic or not. I took control and became the guy in the convertible with the little red flag.
Months late doctors reduced my insulin shots from 20 to 12 units, then to eight units. And finally I heard the news I wanted to hear. Doctors were in agreement that I should be taken off insulin all together.
Here is how doctors determine if you are diabetic. A blood test measures your blood sugar levels for the past three months. If it is 6.0 or above you are considered diabetic. If it is 5.8 or 5.9 you are considered pre diabetic.
Anything below that and you are considered normal. I got the A1C blood sugar results this morning. I came in at 5.2 My A1C the last two years has ranged from 4.6 to 5.5.
I write this because 3 million Americans will become diabetics this year and they are told it is a chronic disease because Big Pharma wants you to rely on their drugs for the rest of your life. A doctor told me that a 45 minute work out is like a shot of insulin.
I spoke to a doctor’s group who wanted to know what I did to get off insulin. Their goal is to reduce the number of patients who are so crippled by diabetes that they eventually have limbs removed.
I know of people whose A1C shot up to 14.5 and they felt dizzy and sluggish. I know of others whose A1C was around 20.0 and they had limbs amputated.
The key word is moderation. I drink beer, eat frozen yogurt and treat myself once a week to a pecan braid at Panera bread. But I mostly eat grilled chicken, fish and vegetables. I gave up pop or soda and drink lots of water. That combination resulted in a 43 pound weight loss.
I have my fun but I remain in the driver’s seat. And I want to stay there with my little red flag waving in the wind.
My life changed three years ago this week.
Life turned from I feel completely happy and life is rolling like a tidal wave to I feel miserable, cannot walk and talk or feel my right arm. And why the heck am I laying in a cold tube at 3 in the morning for brain scans?
This week three years ago I suffered the first of two strokes which put me on the sidelines of a once fulfilling and fun career in Detroit sports media. Now I am just a guy watching from the sidelines, sometimes sad that the run ended. But sometimes I am happy that the ride ended because life is a lot less stressful without deadlines to meet and two employers trying to convince you that you should devote more time to them,
Now I worry about meeting cooking and laundry deadlines for the family which are easier to meet.
I am a different person than I was three years ago. I feel like the old Terry Foster died and a new Terry Foster emerged.
I am happy to be around, bouncing around town and enjoying life in a different way.
I am not going to blame my career path for the strokes. Its how I handled my career path that caused the strokes. I could have taken time off to take care of myself and go to the doctor more often. However, I was always chasing the next big story in Detroit sports, making evening phone calls and maintaining my presence on the Valenti and Foster drive time show on 971 The Ticket
Both newspaper and radio were good about giving you time off. I chose not to take it because I was addicted to the profession.
Let me answer the question most people ask me. Is a stroke painful?
They are all different. In my case there was no physical pain. I felt numb, heaviness in the legs and the complete loss of my fine motor skills. I had pretty good hand to eye coordination. That is no longer the case.
I had pretty good speed for an old guy. That is no longer the case. But thankfully I can run well enough to stay out of trouble.
I am different though. The first stroke robbed me of many of my physical strengths. The second robbed me of my personality.
My ideal of a good time was crawling into the bed and pulling the cover over my head. I did not want to talk to the wife, the kids, neighbors or friends. I was a shell of my former self.
My doctor recommended that I socialize more. It helped because I am almost back to that old guy with the gift of gab and stale humor. Sometimes I want to crawl back in my shell but I won’t allow myself to do so.
Doctors fear depression.
You find strength in peoples’ well wishes and in friends. Two media people really stood by me during my darkest hours. I swear Rob Parker called me every day to see how I was doing and offered to talk any time of day. That meant a lot to me and I don’t know how to thank him except to say thanks.
And Detroit News sports columnist Bob Wojnowski provided refreshing and therapeutic Friday nights at Bar Louie in Novi. He always offers to be there for me and is a real pal for sharing a few beers and snacks.
I must thank wife Abs who acted as a strong patient advocate and held my hand when it needed holding. And thanks to my pal Melissa who has thrown a lot of support my way.
Now I almost feel bad about beating up Rob in the boxing ring and making fun of Wojo just for being Wojo.
I celebrated my third year anniversary by going to see the doctor. Dr. Elconin gave me another clean bill of health.
So I decided to have a me day where I did and ate what I wanted. I went downtown for a cheeseburger and fries at Shake Shack and later discovered the downtown Plum Market. That place is amazing. I downed two glasses of wine and home girl behind the bar made an Old Fashion for me.
So how do I feel three years later?
I feel good but not great. I still have heavy legs. I don’t feel as sharp or as quick witted. I can do many of the things I could do before. But at a slower pace.
I get tired easily but can’t sleep.
I am happiest at the gym with the old people at Planet Fitness and with Stephanie and the gang during body pump class at the West Bloomfield Power House gym.
Sometimes the best things in life are free.
The little train that storms around Comerica Park spitting out free T-shirts dropped one in my lap and people have been raving over it ever since. It is a simple orange shirt with a giant Old English D plastered in front.
I’ve only worn it twice but I’ve received at least a half a dozen compliments. During my evening walk through the neighborhood I passed a woman walking with her child.
“Oh I just love your shirt,” she gushed.
Minutes before that a woman at the library said she loved the shirt. One of my neighbors asked me to give him the shirt.
I explained to the first woman how I got the shirt and she actually stopped to listen. Maybe she thought I was going to give her the shirt off my back. Not a chance lady.
I almost didn’t get this amazing shirt. I was in section 117 at the Tigers game with my son Brandon when shirts began pouring from the sky. The lady, who sat in front of me, didn’t get a chance at a shirt because she left to get food. I didn’t tell her that the shirt I nabbed feel right in her seat.
I scooped it up and put it in my bag.
“Geez,” the lady said. “I left at the wrong time.”
A sliver of guilt hit me. If she remained in her seat she would have caught the T shirt and taken it home. She noticed that everybody in the row in front of her and in back held a bundled shirt in their hands. I thought about reaching into my bag and giving it to her, but I am not that nice.
Would you give the shirt to the woman? Did I mess up?
I am glad I didn’t because people love it and I enjoy the compliments and conversations that follow.
I am on the suckers list.
Over the past few months solitors have bombarded my cell phone with offers for hearing aids, opioids, car protection plans, cruises, cheap air fares to destinations I’d never want to go to in a million years (anybody interested in going to Mongolia?) and home protection plans.
Let me save the best scam for last. I received a call from the “Social Security office” who said that my social security number had been compromised in Texas where I just visited and that someone is money laundering in my name, has opened 11 bank accounts for thousands of dollars and rented a car where Texas authorities found two pounds of cocaine and blood in the back seat.
First they tried to get me to confess to the crimes. I didn’t. And then they wanted me to cooperate with them to avoid jail time. I didn’t. To crack the case all they needed was my social security number, what bank I had a legit account with and my home address.
They threatened to close all of my bank accounts, including the one legitimate bank account that I actually have.
The guy offered to do me a favor. I could withdraw money before they closed the account as long as I kept them on the line.
Like I said. I am on the suckers list. But I am not that much of a sucker. I probably listened too long, but the story was so good that the reporter in me took over and I took notes, including jotting down the agents badge number.
I told the old people that I work out with at Planet Fitness and my pal Larry Birds eyes lit up. He got the social security scam call also. They also said his social security number had been compromised and they threatened to cut off his social security checks if he did not cooperate.
He was a little smarter than me. He told the person that he worked for the Federal Government and that if he finds out this is a scam that he is going to prosecute. They immediately hung up.
People beware, especially if you are older. They pry on us old folks being gullible. Once I turned 55 the scams began rolling in at an alarming rate. Old people fall for these scams all the time. I woman told me that her mother fell for a scam. Someone call and said her son had been kidnapped. These people wanted to help her find her son but they needed travel money to investigate.
She gave them the money.
“They must be getting a lot of people’s money or they would not keep doing this,” Bird said.
We are under attack by scammers. They didn’t get me this time and make sure they don’t get you.
My daughter Celine is finishing up a summer job with Facebook in Austin, Texas.
She works hard and often takes work home with her. I called her last week and suggested she take a break. The weekend was coming. The grind of her junior year in college is not far behind.
“Take a break,” I told her. “Why don’t you go to your favorite spot in town and have a good time.”
She explained that she had too much work on her plate. She was preparing for a presentation and an interview.
She stayed in.
Thankfully she did not listen to dad.
There was a shooting near Celine’s hot spot in Austin. A 20 year old woman was shot and killed. Four others were injured. A few people got into an argument. A man became enraged and began shooting at random. People were hit who had no idea what the fuss was all about.
I don’t know if Celine would have been in harms way if she’d gone out that night. But the incident is a reminder that we live in a scary world. Or scary country.
The Austin shooting did not make the national news. We were focused on the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton when 32 people were killed in two incidents that came within 13 hours of one another.
We live in a lawless society. Recently, Mt. Sinai Hospital in Chicago stopped accepting new patients and ambulances because there were too many gun shot victims in the emergency room to accept new victims.
Several countries have issued a tourism advisory for the United States because of the recent mass shootings. We’ve had nearly 300 mass shootings this year already and more are to come.
Three years ago I began fighting for a longer life after suffering two strokes in part because I want to be there for my daughter. I want to support her when she graduates from college, gets married and has her first child.
If Celine was killed that night by a stray bullet I’d be done. Part of the reason I want to remain on Earth would disappear.
One family in Austin is grieving. That does not match the hurt people are feeling in Dayton and El Paso. But that is still one life too many and that is not acceptable.
We should be better than this.
We were on a softball diamond talking about my latest health scare when the man asked if he could pray for my recovery.
I gladly said yes. I need all the help I can get.
Here is what has had me worried the last month. I was losing blood at an alarming rate and doctors could not find the source of the leak. They want my hemoglobin or blood levels to be a 13.0.
Mine had dipped to 10.2 in about six months. I was told 9.0 was a dangerous level. Two test failed to find the problem. Possible surgery or a blood transfusion loomed in the distance.
Later on that day when I was on the softball field I was supposed to get the long awaited diagnosis from my doctor. And I was supposed to take another blood test to see if my hemoglobin dipped again.
The man prayed that I’d find new healthy blood, that my body would reverse the downward trend and I would be sound again.
My hemoglobin had not returned to normal, but it increased to an 11.5 from a 10.2 in a month. That meant no surgery, no blood transfusion, no procedure where they fuse the holes in leaky blood veins.
Here is my treatment. Iron pills, blue berries, spinach and more red meat in my diet.
I guess prayers do work. Mine were answered.
When I had my stroke three years ago, I had a sleepless night where I wondered what my legacy in life was. Was I an uncaring jerk? Did I care about people? And who the hell would care about me if I did not emerge from this illness healthy?
I knew my family would care about me. And so did this guy walking off the field after his morning softball game.
People told me that they prayed for me while I was in the hospital. I felt your encouragement and it gave me hope.