Emory Experience

Posted on June 8, 2013 

    Good morning, Snakes fans! Hope you've seen the bad news made official this morning. Ian Vigier and Sam Bowles are now Cottonmouths Legends. Look for them on the ice only during the fun-filled Legends Weekend when ex-players come home to relive the glory days and entertain us all.

    We've all known this day was coming. Both players acted accordingly after the disappointing end of the playoffs two months ago. But making it official stings. Happy for both as they start on their real working lives, but sure will miss them.

     Personally, it's not great because Ian and Sammy were two of my go-to guys. Every beat writer has them. Someone to answer questions consistently, thoughtfully and honestly, night after night, regardless of the circumstances. These guys did that. This year, poor Sam got the losing captain questions, too. Hoping it's a coincidence he retired after one year of dealing with me a LOT...haha.

     This post, as you may have noticed from the title, is actually about my experience at Emory University Hospital on Thursday. But I wanted to take one last opportunity to say good-bye and thanks to Ian and Sam. :)

     It was always my intention to make the trip to Atlanta when Jerome had his surgery. I ran the idea by him a while back, but had to get permission from his CEO. No, not Wanda Amos...his wife Rhonda. :) I had Rhonda's cell number, but hated to bother her in the hectic days leading up to the surgery. As luck would have it, ran into her at Target and we sealed the deal in the aisle. 

     People kept telling me that I could just get text updates from Wanda from the comfort of my sofa and save myself the trip, but I just couldn't do that. Jerome and I have known each other since '98 and worked together since '04. He is a friend, as well as a colleague. There are tons of people, literally all over the continent, who care about him. I felt a responsibility to him to keep all of his friends, former teammates, colleagues and fans updated. 

     To those who think I'm a tad too assertive at times (I'll let you laugh or groan here), I want to set the record straight. NO...I was not in the operating room, nor did I do a pre-op consult with the doctor. :) If you look up Dr. Edward Chen and try to read and process what he does, best of luck. When I wrote the story for yesterday's paper, I had to check and recheck all that aortic valve stuff. I was so out of my element. My medical training is limited to stitches, missing teeth and a little blood. That's it.

      I left home at 4:30 Thursday morning. Had been to Emory a couple of times. My darling niece Allison graduated from nursing school there and my Reese participated in a Special Olympics swim meet there. But this was my first time going to the hospital. Great directions on the website and...YAY...valet parking. :) Went armed with cash in all denominations. Told my husband, whatever they charge...it's worth it! haha. Only $8 which I thought was pretty reasonable. I'd have paid more not to try to park in downtown Atlanta. Ugh.

      The first of many friendly faces our merry, yet nervous, little group would encounter this day directed me to the right elevator. Jerome was on the third floor, but each elevator went to a different place. Don't worry if you don't understand. I spent all day there and still don't. The thing is, any time any of us looked a little lost or confused, some friendly person would come up and ask if they could help us. No kidding. It happened a half dozen times in all different parts of the hospital.

      I found the waiting room with no problems. Rhonda was there with Wanda and two other dear friends. Teri LaSalle, former Snakes athletic trainer, and Rev. Jay Bailey. It was great to see all of them. Arriving a little later was Rhonda's friend and colleague named Michelle. Didn't get her last name. Sorry, Michelle! We were to spend many hours together...

      The set-up at Emory was awesome. You probably know that Rhonda is a nurse, so she brought a considerable bit of knowledge to the table. I was so impressed with the caring, respectful way they dealt with her. She wasn't a nurse on Thursday. She was a concerned wife. 

      Rhonda was given a cell phone so she could move freely about the hospital and vicinity, which we did. We settled in for the long haul, as they told her up front it would be 4-6 hours. She was promised updates every two hours and she got them. Sometimes even more often than that. We all kept one ear out for the phone and jumped in unison every time it rang...haha.

      In between calls, we were all either chatting or taking full advantage of the hospital's wireless. Rhonda had texting to do and talking to her daughters, mom and Jerome's mom. Each time she got more news,  I had to update in three places: here, facebook and twitter. Teri was working on her laptop. Michelle, a brand new nurse practitioner, was studying for her boards. Jay was on his phone, probably catching up on a zillion emails which piled up during his recent trip to Africa. Wanda started a new book and also spent time on her phone updating everyone.

      The hospital has a great cafeteria where we went for breakfast once we knew the surgery was underway. Then we all trooped back to the waiting room. Rhonda and Michelle went on a walk and found a fantastic food court about a block away, where we ended up for lunch. All this time, the trusty cell phone kept us connected to the nurse, and to Jerome.

      It was so hard not to watch the clock, but we all did. I got there at 6:30 and Rhonda, Wanda and Jay were already there. Jerome had to be there at 6, so as the day went on, and the tension mounted, fatigue also set in. We needed to hear it was over and all was well. We got that call from the nurse and all let out a huge sigh of relief, especially Rhonda. 

       She went around the corner to make a couple of calls and the cell rang again. Wanda and I both jumped, exchanged a quick 'uh, oh' glance and then reacted. She answered and I ran (sorry...too much information) to find Rhonda. It was the doctor. He gave her a summary of the procedure, told her the game plan and when he'd see her in person. It was truly over.

      I left shortly after that call, so relieved that only then did I realize how nervous I'd been all along!! haha. This was the man's heart, after all...

      A million thanks to Wanda who kept me updated via texts until nearly 11 o'clock that night. Thankful for modern medicine: less than 24 hours after open-heart surgery, Jerome was in a room, all tubes and the ventilator gone. Yesterday he was also up and walking. Thank God.

      They say he's being a model patient. I believe them, but want to caution the nurses. Is his laptop or cell close by? I think the girls were visiting this weekend. Not sure, but think I heard that in the whirlwind of conversations we had going on. Hopefully, he'll not start recruiting players or calling the office for a little while. :)

     The story in this morning's paper about Ian and Sam was planned long ago. The next signing/not signing story won't be for a few weeks. Jerome needs his rest so he can come back stronger and feistier than ever. Heaven help us all...:)

      Stay tuned.

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