Roy Exum: I’m Amazingly Healthy

Friday, June 14, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum
During the past month there is not one square inch of my body that hasn’t been scanned, X-rayed, or magnetically imaged. From the gray hair on my head to my old toe-nails, a long parade of doctors and their technicians have been equally mystified as I have been the sickest I can ever remember.  Just like the late Lewis Grizzard famously said, “Elvis is dead and I don’t feel very good myself.”

But after spending the last two weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, it seems I am the result of a “perfect storm” of medical maladies and, after running a gamut of emotions from picking my pallbearers to saying goodbye to my dog, things are finally looking up. If today’s meetings with the Infectious Disease folks turn out like I hope they will, I’ll be back home this weekend, eager to play the role as the Luckiest Guy in America.

I was perfectly minding my own business in mid-May when I woke up with a throbbing shoulder. I first thought I had slept funny and gotten a “crick” but, later in the day, when X-rays revealed my humerus was broken, things went south in a great hurry. It was found I also had a compress fracture in my back and six broken ribs and suddenly mean-sounding words like multiple myeloma and blood cancer were being bandied about.

I was nauseated, exhausted, and the pain kept getting worse. Doctors were as mystified as I was and, when one diagnostic test after another proved negative, I hurried up to Mayo’s where the same bafflement and curiosity reigned supreme through one test and MRI after another. Nuclear scans and constant blood tests did no more than prove I didn’t have any horrible diseases but couldn’t identify the reasons for what I figured was my impending demise.

Mayo doctors quickly focused on my right arm which has been so plagued with osteomyelitis that I have undergone 132 surgeries since 1990. My humerus – swollen, inflamed and broken – drew the most attention but blood studies confirmed the mononucleosis I had battled during the winter was back with a vengeance. Add the pain and the nauseating medicine to control it and I was a wreck.

Through it all, I got hundreds of emails urging me to stay strong, to feel the buoying winds of healing prayers, and that I did. Today I am the latest answer to prayers – some from complete strangers – because Mayo doctors believe it just may be all of the problems added together are what presented the puzzle. The theory is the broken shoulder created the pain, the narcotics caused the nausea, the “osteo” brought the wretched side effects, and the pile of negative tests added the anguish.

There has never been a question I am still awfullly sick. Just to watch me try to dress was akin to some contortionist perform at Cirque du Solieau, and the fact I have had to force down food has me under 190 pounds for the first time in 35 years. But I’ve never had a fever that would register, a white blood count go awry, or the first inkling of a question under one of those giant MRI cylinders.
The best theory that will accompany me back home is that I must have rolled over during my sleep and my now-brittle humerus was at such a crazy angle it broke. Ever since my elbow was finally removed for good, my humerus has just sort of “dangled” and, without a good brace, it flops around in directions unknown.

The first thing the Mayo people did was to devise a custom brace that has already diminished the pain. And the sole prescription I need to fill is for “time.” Nothing can be done for the shoulder or the ribs – instead to pray for grace as the bones heal in about six weeks.  “Mono,” called Epstein-Barr virus by those in the know, could take longer with bed-rest and quiet as the only guidelines.

The good news is that there is “no way” I have any of the terrible diseases that Google says will only get worse while the prayers I have felt assure me I’ll get better. Oh, the doctors have warned we aren’t out of the woods but at least we’ve found the path towards the sunshine. For the past two weeks I’ve been in bed by 7 p.m. every night and, while I’ve gulped down more Gator Aid that the Minnesota Vikings, I feel like I’ve just played all four quarters against the famed Purple People Eaters of old.

There are still some mysteries unsolved, such as how does hydrocodone know to the precise minute when four hours is up? And why, at a place where there are such heart-wrenching sights, it is impossible to feel sorry for one’s self, do I get a pass while my new-found patient-buddies are hardly as fortunate. All you can do is pray – hard – and I am the latest proof that is the biggest medicine of all.

Soon I’ll swing back into my routine, writing  every day and sharing laughter, but the guy who said the hard times make you appreciate the good ones was a right as he could be. It is predicted there will be measurable rain in Minnesota for the 12th straight weekend and folks here are depressed about it . After the past month I understand that, but, brother, if you keep your grip on the rope, the sun will eventually shine.  I’m going to be just fine.

royexum@aol.com


Education From A Businessman's Point Of View

Our school board should be viewed as a board of directors that works for us, the stockholders of an education system in which the entire community is invested. With a $400 million budget, it is important that we elect individuals with business experience not only to manage how funds are allocated, but also to seriously evaluate human resources to enlist the best management team ... (click for more)

VW Investment Questions

Clearly, our city and county government are going to award an additional $52 million in local tax payer resources to VW assuming a return of 2,000 jobs direct, and indirect return. To weigh the rate of return to the community, someone had to assume how long the 2,000 direct jobs would exist. Does anyone know how long our government assumed 2,000 job would continue or sustain for ... (click for more)

EPB Files With FCC To Expand TV, Phone, Internet Offerings Outside Electric Service Area

 EPB announced Thursday that it has filed a petition to the FCC "in an effort to respond to neighboring communities’ requests for access to the company’s gigabit enabled high-speed Internet service." Officials said, "EPB offers high-speed Internet access, video programming and voice services using a fiber optic communications network that allows the company to deliver these ... (click for more)

Black Creek Developers Say They "Followed The Rules" On $9 Million TIF: To Continue Project

The developers of the Black Creek project at Aetna Mountain said Thursday they "complied precisely by the rules when we applied for and received approval of the TIF district." Doug Stein said the group plans to continue on with the project, which he said earlier would include the creation of a small town on a huge undeveloped tract on the mountain above Black Creek (formerly ... (click for more)

Stone Leaves South Pitt For Coaching Positions At Boyd-Buchanan

The possibility of a career move was definitely in Wes Stone’s future. The one he took wasn’t necessarily on his radar screen just a few weeks ago. Stone, assistant football and head baseball coach at South Pittsburg, has left the Pirates for teaching/coaching positions at Boyd-Buchanan. The 38-year-old Stone, who already is working with the Bucs’ football team as a defensive ... (click for more)

Soddy-Daisy's Wright Commits To MTSU Baseball

Soddy-Daisy’s Andy Wright, a rising senior and dual-threat player, has made a non-binding verbal commitment to play baseball at Middle Tennessee State University. Wright, a pitcher/third baseman, chose the Conference USA Blue Raiders over Belmont, Air Force, Navy, UT-Martin and Carson-Newman. “I’m glad to get this (decision) off my back so I can enjoy my senior year,” Wright ... (click for more)