Sunday, May 05, 2013

I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Grady

There is a big hospital in Atlanta called Grady. Apparently a lot of babies get delivered there, hence the bus stop shelter signs and highway billboards showing some ordinary person claiming "I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for Grady." If you are a "Grady Baby," you are a native Atlantan for sure.

But this blog post is Part 3 in a short series about my brother-in-law named Grady who is still not fully conscious after a February 3rd bicycle-versus-truck accident in Florida.

From what I've learned while getting to know Grady the past several weeks, he is quite an influential man. Not in a profound or infamous kind of way—but rather in a simplified, utterly human way. It is in his nature to inspire others to be better people and live life as if God and the Truth within you comes before everything else. It's a simple yet sometimes trying way to live.

Grady is a smart man, a "numbers guy," as his wife Joanie says, with a natural gift of persuasive people skills. He is the kind of person who has learned to laugh at himself and live in the present. Being the type of person who would give anyone the shirt off his, back, Grady has been a positive role model to his children and nieces and nephews, ensuring they are thinking about their futures and planning for them. According to Grady, by the time you are 17, you should have your five-year plan honed to perfection.

If you are on the verge of quitting something because you are unsure of your goal, a talk with Grady will get you back on track. Marriage falling apart? Grady will tell you to read Emmet Fox. Interestingly, things work out and your world is right again.

Of course, he's not perfect—far from it, in fact. He is a genuinely caring, unique and inspirational individual. Even in his coma, he somehow manages to change the lives of others for the better. I've seen it myself. This isn't just something I'm spouting off about—it is what everybody who knows Grady is saying.

One day a while back, a sharp young man who works with Grady came into Grady's room at Shepherd Center for a visit. There lay Grady in his coma, potentially able to hear the conversation in the room, but unable to respond. I asked the fellow how he knows Grady, and he was happy to tell me all about how Grady had been his "mentor" at work but taught him so much more than how to do the job. Without appearing the least bit uncomfortable about Grady's condition, he talked about how Grady changed his life. His faith that Grady would come back to us one day was immediately apparent and went without saying.

Everyone who comes to visit Grady says this about him. What is it about him? How did he become so inspiring to so many people? I have watched and listened carefully over the past nine or 10 weeks, slowly figuring out the answer....

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Getting to Know Grady

So who is the individual named Grady that I brought up in my last post?

Grady is a guy I am honored to know. He is my brother Pete's wife's sister's husband. What do we call that—a brother-in-law in law? A brother-in-law once removed? I'm not sure. But Grady is definitely family.

Grady is a husband, brother, friend, father of three and star employee of one of the Big Four. He is the type of person everyone wants to be around, the life of the party, the optimist. He touches every life that he bumps into. Grady was once recognized (out of 165,000+ global employees) for having the best people skills; in fact, he was due to interview for partner on Monday, February 4.

His road to partner took an unexpected turn when, the evening before, Grady left my brother's house in Florida on his bicycle to head home. He was crossing Hwy. 17 when the traffic light turned and he was hit by an oncoming truck.

Judging from this single photo found online the following day—and thanks to Google maps' street view—Grady's bike landed up to 50 yards from the site of impact.

Grady was unconscious when delivered to Orange Park Medical Center with a broken hip, crushed wrist and severe brain swelling and hematoma. A shunt was inserted in his brain to drain fluid. After a move to the Mayo Clinic and another move to Shands Jacksonville Medical Center for surgeries on his wrist and hip, Grady was transferred to the renowned Shepherd Center here in Atlanta for rehabilitation. He is still in a coma today.

It just so happens that Shepherd Center is walking distance from my home, just 1.1 miles away. Since Grady's arrival here around February 28, I've gotten to know him pretty well, mostly through his wife Joanie, her sister Jacqui, Grady's brother Steve, and their dad and step-mom. There have been plenty others, too. Grady has had lots of visitors, including a couple of the firm's partners and a fellow employee for whom Grady was an enlightening mentor.

Oddly enough, Grady continues to be an inspiration to those around him, despite his current inability to communicate. More on that in my next post.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Catching Up

I'm sure no one reads my blog anymore, especially since I haven't posted in over 18 months. 2012 is the first year that I didn't blog. Probably due to my paranoia of sharing TMI online.

Since my last post, I've moved (yes, again!) and actually don't plan on moving again for a long time, or until my knees give out, whichever comes first. That's the trick of living in a townhouse—you have to deal with all those stairs. Besides, two mortgages is enough for one person. Hence, no more moving! I swear.

The good news is that we finally found Jelly's favorite fuzzy when the movers pulled out the dryer in my last apartment. There it was! I was so happy for Jelly. At the time, she was probably too stressed out from being subjected to her third move in less than three years since I'd adopted her in Virginia. Poor Baby, on the other hand, this was her fifth move in five years with me, and she really hates when all the furniture disappears from her home.

Personally, I am amazed that I survived another move so soon without totally cracking up. I came close, I admit.

We truly love our new home, which is in a great location between Buckhead and Midtown, right on the Beltline trail that will eventually connect all of Atlanta in one big loop. It's a beautiful trail which is perfect for running—until I had to give up running (again) due to injury.

At least I finally have a name for my chronic pain—it's called, well... chronic pain—or, specifically, chronic myofascial pain (CMP), which I was diagnosed with a year ago, along with something called central sensitization. Anyway, I've been in trigger point therapy treatment for a year for that and we still haven't found the end-all solution. I love my PT group, so I'm not giving up hope yet!

For some people, it's a long road. My CMP is primarily concentrated on the entire right side of my body, from my right temple (where migraines start), all the way down to my toes. If one thing doesn't hurt, something else does. Anyway, I've still got both my arms and legs so I can't complain. Plenty of folks have it much worse.

The past year and a half has been pretty stressful due to the house purchase and 49th move combined with obtaining my CISSP certification and starting up grad school again while working full time. There have been family illnesses, apartment maintenance nightmares, a never-ending series of doctor appointments, pet illnesses, car repairs, a new tenant, an ex-tenant law suit (that ended with a complete absence of justice), work events that drive me insane—you know, all the usual suspects. Oh, and I was elected President of my newly formed HOA, an appointment that lasted all of about 5 minutes. Ha! Thank god that's over. (That's another story for another day.)

But things will finally calm down in two weeks when my final exam is over and I get a summer away from the mayhem.

There is something else going on that I want to write about. It's the reason I decided to start up my blog again. And that reason's name is Grady.

Grady is a family member who has touched my life and that of so many other people in such a positive way that I feel compelled to write his story. I was sitting with his wife Joanie in a nearby hospital waiting room this past Saturday morning when I told her, "You really need to write a book about everything that's happened."

But because Grady is in a coma, Joanie has her hands full. So I thought I'd take a shot at telling his story myself. And that's what I plan to do, right here. To the best of my ability.

In the meantime, stay well and remember that life isn't fair, but it sure beats the alternative.