Home | Jesse's Story | Road to Recovery | Donations | Specialty | Journal | NBC Today Show

March 4, 2005 Internship Journal

I did general medicine again in February. Unfortunately, I don't have any good patient related stories from the month. I took care of several people who made it difficult for me to want to take care of them for several reasons. One example is one of the patient's, who is addicted to crack, wanted a six-hour pass "to cash her disability check." Of course I also had several patients who I really enjoyed taking care of.

February was a very emotional month though. February 16 was my two-year anniversary for my injury. It is hard to believe that it has been two years since I did common things that I had never imagined not being able to do. Examples of this include being able to drive myself somewhere, walking up steps, going to the bathroom on my own, being able to prepare my own food, hug and pick up Michelle when I see her, and almost every other daily routine activity that I once took for granted.

As I got closer and closer to that date, I thought more and more about what I was doing two years ago. I had returned from Hawaii (I had done a rotation at the Army hospital there because I was on Army scholarship for school) on the first. Michelle and I had just gotten engaged (I proposed to her on January 16). We were both working out twice a day in preparation for the state championships of bodybuilding and fitness, and as a result, we were both in the best shapes of our lives and life seemed almost perfect. Then I fell.

The upside of the month was the Today show story. As most of you know, they had run a story on me in November. In January, they contacted us again and said they would like to do a follow-up story for Valentine's Day. They wanted to do a story that focused on our relationship. This would then be followed by a live interview. We of course said that would be great. They shot the story in late January and told us that they were unsure of what day in February it would be on, but they thought it would be either February 7 or the 14th.

The week before the seventh, they told us it would run on Valentine's Day. I was scheduled to be on call that day, so we had planned to do the live interview from the hospital. Then on the 11th, Michelle paged me and told me that Al Roker and the Today show was coming to Greenville.

She found out because someone called her and told her that it was in the newspaper, and they had not told us because they wanted us to be surprised. The article had said that they were going to set up a mini Rockefeller Center and there would be a performer that would be announced later. Michelle and I were very excited, but did not know what to expect. We figured that everything would be set up outside, like it is in New York, and that Al Roker would do a brief interview with us.

On the morning of the 14th, I went into work earlier than normal so I could see my patients before the interview. After I was done, I went down to the Children's Hospital where I was supposed to meet one of the producers. I was a little bit early, so I tried to look around. However, I was told that I could not.

When I went over to the area that they had set up for the interview, I was happy to see the two brothers that had filmed both of the stories. They had originally told us that because it was going to be a live interview, it would be done by a crew from New York. Michelle and I were very excited to see them though because we had really enjoyed working with them during the other two stories. So I just sat in that area and talked with them about what they had done since we last spoke.

Soon after this, Michelle and I had our make up done and they started wiring us up. It was very cool to experience firsthand all of the behind-the-scenes stuff. They told us that the story would run around 830 and the live interview would immediately follow. We were told that after the interview, we had a minute and a half to go down the hall. They would not tell us what was going to happen there, but they said that they were going to "have fun with us." We continued to hear this throughout the morning. Michelle and I did not know what this meant, but it made us nervous.

Before we knew it, it was time for us to watch our story. We were seated in front of a laptop computer from which we could watch the Today show. We were told that during commercials we would see a live shot of Rockefeller Center. It turned out that we were also seeing this when they were showing Al Roker and the crowd that had gathered in the Children's Hospital at the hospital where I work. When our story came on, we were able to watch it, and we were very pleased.

Doing the live interview was a little bit weird. Matt and Katie were on the laptop, but we could not look at them because we had to look at the camera. Plus, there is a two second delay, so it is a little bit different answering the questions. Overall though, it was painless. As soon as we were done, we left that room and hurried down the hall where we were met by several people and two closed doors.

As we were sitting there, I did not know what to think. Luckily, I did not have too much time to worry about what was going to happen. Before I knew it I could hear Al's voice, and the doors were opened. When he told us about the trip to Hawaii, I was so surprised. All I could do was look at Michelle and smile. I was then even more surprised to see that they had set everything up for us. As soon as Al was done telling us about our trip, Michael Buble began singing to us.

He was incredible (we have since bought both of his CDs, and they are great)! The whole experience was quite surreal. After his first song, he presented Michelle with a dozen roses and shook my hand. He seemed to be a little choked up. He then sung us two more songs. While he was singing, I was thinking about how amazing everything was. I was also thinking about the trip to Hawaii, and trying not to think of the practical stuff like, who is going to fly with us and who is going to help take care of me. Unfortunately though, these are things that people in my situation have to think about.

After everything was done, Al put his arm around me and spoke to me. I do not remember his exact words, but I do remember him also being choked up. I was quite flattered by this. Soon after this, I did an interview for the local news station and an interview for the newspaper. After all of this, it was time to go back to work. I was pretty much busy the whole day and night until around 1 a.m.. When I finally lied down, I was absolutely exhausted.

As you can imagine, it was difficult for me to go anywhere in the hospital that week without being recognized. Despite being happy about everything that happened on Monday, it was still a very rough week for me because of the anniversary. Every time that someone would say "Congratulations," I would add something negative to it in my head like "you are a quadriplegic." I know this sounds terrible, but it was just the way my brain was working that week. I continued to think over and over about what I was thinking when I climbed over the railing that night. It is impossible for me not to be upset with myself when I think about it, and because it was February, I thought about it quite often. Luckily, this down period only lasted a couple days.

Return to Journal Home Page