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Down goes Foster: My Texas fall

dell setonAustin, Tx — The back of my left arm carries a deep plum purple bruise and doctors say part of it may turn yellow in the coming days.

Less than two hours after landing here to visit my daughter Celine I was taking a wild spill through the central Texas heat after tripping over a steel barrier near her apartment. My left arm caught the brunt of the fall and scrapped across the pavement.

It was my second spill in five weeks and this was by far the worst. During my fall, which seemed to last forever, I thought of an Eddie Murphy skit where he talks about his Aunt Bunny who falls down the stairs every time she visits the house.

She screams “Oh Jesus help me. I’m falling down the steps. Oh Lord Jesus Christ.” And Murphy makes this hilarious noise into the microphone of Aunt Bunny’s fall. I was Aunt Bunny.

The fall was so long that I had time to think of Aunt Bunny before landing with a thud.

My arm felt fine after picking myself off the pavement. I felt like a loser who was ruining the family trip. I could see the horror in my kids’ eyes as dad stumbled out of control. There was a minor burning sensation, but I was ready to go on with the rest of the day.

The family was taking a casual stroll from Celine’s apartment to Torcy’s Taco, which supposedly has some of the best Mexican food in town. I never found out. While my son Brandon and Celine enjoyed Torchy’s I was at Dell Seton Medical Center near the University of Texas receiving treatment for my arm.

By the time we reached Torchy’s my arm had swollen up so big that I looked like Popeye. Wife Abs said we needed to hit the nearest emergency room and I did not fight her. The arm looked gruesome.

Doctors took x rays of the arm and a half hour later announced there was no break. But a bunch of blood vessels may have exploded in my arm because I am on the blood thinner Plavix following a stroke almost three years ago.

I was told for the millionth time to be careful because the blood thinner causes bleeding. I thought I was being careful, but I did not see the steel barrier that was hidden along a grass line.

Five weeks earlier I found myself in an emergency room near home after falling down one stair in the house. I banged my head on the dry wall and Abs demanded that I go to the hospital.

I did not suffer any brain damage and after the purple mask disappears I should be fine after the latest spill.

I wonder how long it took Aunt Bunny to recover after her falls.

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Smile. My insides are on candid camera

cropped-terry-beach1.jpgDoctors did not find the source of my internal bleeding during testing at Beaumont Hospital.

Now I must swallow a camera with flash drive. I am not making that up.

The good news is I am cancer free and do not have an ulcer. Doctors did say I have a minor sinus condition, which I can live with. However, after probing my body they could not find the source of why my blood levels are low.

Ideally, you want your hemoglobin at a 13.0. Mine is at 10.2. So what’s going on? That has not been determined yet, but whatever is wrong is at an early stage. So there is no reason to be concerned yet.

Now all I have to do is swallow a camera.

Modern medicine has taken great strides. The camera and flash drive are loaded in a capsule about the size of a large pill. The problem is not in my stomach or colon. Doctor suspect there is a tear in my intestines.

Once the camera reaches that area it will take a photo every 30 seconds until the problem is found. In the mean time I am taking iron pills and eating more spinach, beans and red meat.

The lesson here is to keep checking in with your doctor. Know your numbers. If I didn’t know what was going on I’d live a pain free life until this condition grew serious. Then I would suffer horrific stomach cramps, begin bleeding externally and then require a trip to the hospital perhaps for surgery.

Now I must swallow a camera, get the results, and begin painless treatments.

I like this way better.

** Detroit businessman Dan Gilbert must undergo physical therapy after suffering a stroke. Some speculated that the therapy means the stroke was so severe he cannot walk.

That is not necessarily true. I could walk after my stroke but still went through two months of physical therapy so that I could walk better and with more confidence. My issue was that I did not have confidence in my balance and thought I was going to fall during walks.

Doctors at Henry Ford Hospital said my mind was playing tricks with my body and we needed to get the two in sync. We finally did although I did fall down the steps about a week ago. I guess I am still not perfect. I may never be.

 

 

 

Dan Gilbert illness hits close to home

gilbertWhen business man Dan Gilbert experienced stroke like symptoms it hit close to home.

I wondered what those symptoms were and how he felt at the time. I experienced similar symptoms nearly three years ago when my blood pressure hit the ceiling and I suffered what was considered a mild stroke. Although I lost my voice for a while and could not step or type I feel close to normal now.

I don’t feel like the old guy that used to dance around and act a fool. That guy died and was replaced by a calmer, less aggressive and not quite as sharp version of the old guy.

I am still Terry Foster. But perhaps it would be more accurate to call me Terry Foster lite.

I am not the same old guy, but at least my family can still hug and love a version of me. I can still love and feel love. And that’s not all bad.

Every time somebody I know of gets a stroke I relive the anguish of my two strokes.  It troubled me to learn of the death of film maker John Sngleton who died in April at age 51 of a stroke. I cried when my childhood friend Lamont died of a stroke about four months after mine.

I feel fortunate that I am still here to kick it with friends, watch my children grow and to bug and hug my wife. I can still do a lot of things, but at a slower pace and in more moderation.

One of my doctors said that I have done a wonderful job in eating correctly and working the body. But he said I needed to exercise the brain more. He recommended that I do similar things that I loved prior to the stroke. So I blogged more and did podcasts and posted videos on face book and twitter.

I did too much. My blood pressure shot up again and I began feeling sluggish and feeble. I had plans to go out with friends for the holidays. But I called everybody up to post pone our dates and hoped they understood.

I must do something to keep the brain sharp or doctors feel that depression could set in. I must still live my life, but not at break neck speed.

When I go out with my pals Melissa,  Trevor, Wojo and my new pals at the gym I do it for more than having a good time. It is part of my new therapy to engage and keep sharp. My first inclination most days is to stay to myself and not interact with society.

That is not good for me.

Dan Gilbert is a very important man with a plate full of projects and ideas. Here is my advice to him. Do not do too much, but you still must remain active and keep moving Detroit forward at a pace you feel comfortable with.

Take your blood pressure daily and monitor your numbers like never before.

A stroke is a deadly disease, but there is life after stroke for some of us. There is a second chance and a second life for some of us.

Let’s take advantage of it.

 

 

I want to lend my services

teacher.jpgI have a story to tell and life experiences to share.

And I believe that I am at a stage of my recovery from a stroke to do both.

Here are my goals.

Next fall I want to mentor a high school or college news organization.

I want to mentor stroke and heart attack victims also. I have talked to my speech therapists who is trying to pave roads through the Henry Ford Health system. All we need is a room and time for people to join us.

I have life experiences in both and believe I can assist young and old alike.

I have run like a chicken with my head cut off for most of my 59 years on the planet. Now that I’ve slowed down in retirement it is time for me to help others. I still have a lot in the tank and I want to share.

If you know of an organization or school that can use my services leave a message on my blog, on twitter at TerryFoster971 or shoot me an email at TerryFoster74@comcast.net.

I want to help.

The seniors take over the gym

Senior-FitnessWe call ourselves the old people.

We are gym members between the ages of 55 and 75 who show up every morning at Planet Fitness to work out and gab. We are all very different people. We are white and black, blue and red, male and female.

The only things we have in common are ailments.

If you put our medical records together we’ve had hip and knee replacements, heart attacks, diabetes, strokes, high blood pressure and Vertigo. But we keep on ticking and hope the exercise improves our health. We worry about one another so much that if somebody doesn’t show up for three days we fear the worst and give that person a phone call.

“Have you seen Bill,’ someone asked last week.

“Oh he is in Arizona playing golf,” someone else replied.

“Oh thank God. I thought he was dead.”

Sometimes we get together for dinner. A few weeks ago eight of us ate dinner at a place that turns into a dance club at 9 o’clock. We were all out of there by 8:30. No one wanted to be called grand pa or geezer.

The old men crack me up. Sometimes they believe the cute 25 year old in Lulu Lemon tights is looking past all the 25 year old pumped up studs at their wrinkled 60 year old ass.

“I think that cutie is checking me out,” one of the old people said.

I spoiled the day for him.

“Yeah she is looking over here, but you must have missed the “when are these old farts going to get off the weight machine so I can use it” look.”

A woman did ask for my phone number. However, I spent the next two weeks trying to figure out if she wore false teeth. Obviously she was not one of the young cuties I was talking about.

We are the cool old people. There are other groups of old people we don’t associate with. For instance, watch out when you enter the men’s locker room. You might walk in on a 70 year old who is running a hair drying between his legs to dry off his balls after a shower.

How sick. Don’t they have towels for that?

Women complain about other old people that stare at their breasts while working out. I swear I am not one of those people. I am a leg and butt man.

There is an old guy that wears short shorts and when he stretches his private parts burst loose and his duffle bags are squeezed against the floor. I am reporting this guy next time.

A month ago I visited my friend Larry Bird in the hospital after he had knee replacement surgery.

He got misty eyed and said: “Thank you for visiting. I feel kind of special.”

You are special. Besides I knew the surgery would keep you out of the gym for more than three days and I had to tell the other old people that you were not dead.

 

 

 

 

You can heal yourself too

I am no longer a diabetic.

I no longer have high blood pressure. Those are the two ailments that triggered my stroke nearly two years ago.

Doctors told me that the two diseases can be reversed and I was determined to prove them right.

More than 4,100 Americans will be diagnosed today with Type 2 diabetes. Most believe that it is a death sentence. It is not. Many of those 4,100 people will have a foot amputated or they will die from the disease.

That does not have to happen. You can get rid of diabetes. Most people do not know how you are diagnosed with Type 2.  Here is the formula in a nutshell. Doctors take a blood sample and get a three month average of your blood sugar level called an A1C. If you are a 6.0 or above A1C you have diabetes. When I got sick my A1C was 10.1.

Doctors put me on 25 units of long lasting insulin. I changed my eating habits and worked out 60-90 minutes a day and within two months they reduced the insulin to 10 units a day. Last November they reduced it to six units and in January I was taken off of insulin.

Last week I was a little nervous because I had my first A1C test without medication. My reading was 5.3.

I do not tell you this to brag about what I’ve accomplished. I tell you this because more than a third of Americans will be diagnosed with diabetes and it does not have to lead to death or amputation. It could be the beginning of a new lifestyle.

When I got out of the hospital following my stroke, a friend named Scott invited me to lunch. He looked all slim and buffed. Then he shocked me by saying “I suffered a stroke while on a road trip six months ago.”

“I want you to tell people that they can overcome this,” He said. “You  have a larger platform than me. I also want you to be the picture of health in a few months.”

His words helped and I lost 46 pounds through diet and exercise.

What do I eat? Grilled chicken and salmon, vegetables and fruit. My favorite meal is grilled chicken salad and instead of McDonalds for lunch I hit Panera because of the low sodium in its food.

Once a week I treat myself to a Panera pecan braid, which is a delicious pastry filled with sugar and cinnamon. It is close your eyes good.

I can never lose 45 pounds. But I could lose five pounds and once I lose that five pounds I could lose another. That is the approach I took. I looked for victories every week. If I didn’t lose five pounds I was happy going down one belt loop or watching my stomach shrink.

I gave up soda, which was more difficult than I thought. When I stopped drinking pop I felt like all the poisons and sugars were pouring from the top of my head. I felt like I was going through withdrawals.

The commercial is right. Food does taste better with a Coke Cola. It took a while but now I am used to finishing off meals with a couple glasses of ice water.

This is not easy but it is not as hard as you think. People always ask me if I am hungry. I am not starving myself although I do get cravings for certain foods. I ignore my cravings and enjoy a couple cheat meals on Friday.

People always say “If I can do it so can you.” It’s true. You just have to have a certain mindset that good health is better than anything you put in your mouth. Once you accomplish that you are home free and you can reverse certain diseases.

 

 

 

 

The day I should have quit radio

The day I should have quit radio came the day after Michigan State played Wisconsin in a televised Big Ten basketball game.

My job as a sports commentator was to watch the game and talk about it the next day. I watched the game but could not remember a thing about it when our show began on 97.1 The Ticket. That’s when I knew this come back to radio was the wrong thing to do, but it took me a few weeks more to actually pull the trigger.

When I had a stroke nearly two years ago, the old Terry Foster died that day. A new guy emerged. Although I am walking and talking and working out at the gym, I am a new person.

I came back too soon although I did not realize it. I was not fully recovered. I still am not although I am doing a lot better.  It was frustrating not to remember what happened in that basketball game. And it is frustrating not to be able to do what I once could.

I get tired easier and my focus is not the same. I am beginning to miss not being in the media scrum only because I wonder how I would handle big stories that break in our city. How would I write about it? How would I talk about it? What would I think about it?

Do not feel sorry for me. I am lucky. I am alive and still kicking a little bit. That daily fear of this being my last day on Earth has left my families’ eyes. I don’t talk as much but they finally believe that I am in it for the long haul again.

I nearly lost my life during this dark journey. But I have discovered the key to improved health. I weigh 185 pounds, my lightest weight since college. My last blood pressure reading was 122/74. And my doctor now encourages me to drink in moderation to lighten up my new life.

But let’s go back to the day I should have quit radio.

MSU-Wisconsin was an important game. I knew we’d talk about it the next day so I watched. I also watched a NASCAR race that day.

I tweeted about the race, but not the game. Our producer Mike Sullivan accused me of not watching the Spartans. So Mike Valenti came up with a series of questions about the game to see if I watched.

I flubbed every one because I felt pressure at the time. I choked and folded up like a cheap post card. I know they were frustrated and accused me of lying about watching the game. I was sick and in denial.

A few weeks later I grew tired of the daily headaches. I also took my blood pressure two hours after the show and it was always 180 over something ridiculous. I was killing myself again.

I had to step out of the box and chill.

That’s what I’m doing now.

My days are pretty simple. I work out at Planet Fitness in the morning with the old people. I grab lunch and relax watching television during the day, which often includes old, bad movies.

I got to teach my son Brandon how to drive and get to listen to the latest news from the University of Stanford from my daughter Celine.

I could have missed all that.

I am lucky.

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