Monthly Archives: December 2014

2014 in Review

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Dear Readers,

Thanks to you, 2014 was a great year for East Side Eddie! Click below to see this year’s highlights. I can’t express enough my appreciation for you taking a few minutes of your day to read what I have to say. I’m also grateful for your comments, as they help me ensure that what I write is meaningful.

What to look forward to in 2015

As you know, since August I’ve only posted excerpts of “Summer in the Waiting Room: How Faith, Family, and Friends Saved My Life,” so that I could complete the entire manuscript. Beginning on Monday, January 5, 2015, East Side Eddie will resume posting the following features:

Monday: Monday Meanderings – I will post articles on issues I’m passionate about: education, leadership, politics, and current events. My goal is to highlight issues with an insightful and edgy style.

Tuesday: Quotes and Quips – I love quotes, quips, and anecdotes! I will share my favorites every Tuesday.

Wednesday: “Summer in the Waiting Room: How Faith, Family, and Friends Saved My Life.” – The story of my life-changing health crisis will continue.

Thursday: Latino Thursday – Occasionally, I will post about issues that impact the Latino community.

Once again, thank you so much for checking in every week. Your support is my inspiration. As always, I would love to hear from you.

Here’s to a healthy and safe 2015!!

Eddie García

San Jose, CA

December 30, 2014

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 22,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 8 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Summer in the Waiting Room: How Faith, Family, and Friends Saved My Life (excerpt #45)

Kaiser Santa Clara Medical Center (image from
Kaiser Santa Clara Medical Center
(image from

Author’s note: Excerpt #45 of the manuscript of my book, Summer in the Waiting Room: How Faith, Family, and Friends Saved My Life, is the last post for 2014. The story will return on Wednesday, January 7, 2015. To read all 45 excerpts, click on the image above. Happy Holidays!!


After three hours, Dr. Fisk emerged from the surgery room and walked into the packed waiting room with no emotion on his face. We would all later come to understand that Dr. Fisk’s bedside manner was straightforward. He made no effort to offer the silver lining families so wanted to hear. He bluntly told Sandra that they had cleared out the blood clot, but more damage was inflicted on my heart and the prognosis for a complete recovery was grim. Everyone stood in stunned silence.

When I moved from the operating room to the Cardiac ICU, Sandra and the growing group of supporters followed along to the waiting room. The regular cast of characters that would be Sandra’s support system for the next three months began to form there: Marisa (Erica would arrive from Washington, D.C. the next day), Sandra’s parents, her sisters, brothers-in-law, and close friends Juanita and Melody.

As the day wore on, the circle of support continued to grow.  My sister Barbara would arrive later in the day as would Rudy, Will, and Rosa García, one of Sandra’s colleagues and loyal longtime friends.  This group would form the core of visitors that virtually inhabited the waiting room day after day throughout the month of July.

According to Miguel, Sandra was “like the captain of a ship.”  She was the center of the growing concentric circle of support and immediately took command of the situation communicating with doctors and assuring others that everything would be okay. The room was filled with tension, anxiety, and fear as the growing group waited to hear any update from the recovery room.

As people arrived, they went through a gauntlet of greetings, hugs, tears, and prayers ultimately getting to Sandra. According to Barbara, she was “strong and stoic” focused on the flow of information coming from the ICU. She would remain the anchor of the waiting room throughout the summer weathering each storm with the same determination and faith.  Melody said that Sandra “stayed strong for everyone else” no matter how good or bad the news was from doctors.

Throughout the ordeal, Marisa was nervous and anxious, hungry for any tidbit of information that would help her understand what was going on. Erica was quiet, showed little emotion, and questioned the faith of others when fear and despair set in. Mrs. Peralta and Kimberley served as the spiritual backbone leading the waiting room through prayer and reflection.

Shelley kept the room balanced with insightful questions for doctors to ponder sprinkled with witty comments that would bring much needed humor and relief to the room. Val and Mr. Peralta sat quietly in the background providing steady support.  During the first few weeks, Mrs. Peralta, Sandra’s sisters, Barbara, and George would be Sandra’s inner circle of advisers to help her make life and death decisions when doctors posed another dire development.

Rudy was the storyteller recounting our youthful adventures to howls of laughter and sharing intimate moments of brotherhood that brought tears and reflection to those listening.  With his outgoing personality, Pancho would play a variety of self-appointed roles while Eddie and Miguel quietly reinforced a sense of hope. Will, Juanita, and Melody provided vital emotional support to the family by their presence.

A day in the waiting room became part of Melody’s daily summer routine.  She wasn’t working at the time, so she would see Rudy off to work in the morning and get ready for the 30-minute drive to the hospital where she was “drawn to the waiting room by the love and support that filled the room.”

Food played a central role in the life of the waiting room as breakfast turned into lunch and lunch into dinner day after day. Of course, there were snacks throughout the day. As visitors came by to support Sandra and the girls, they would invariably bring something to eat or drink.  Visitors brought donuts, pastries, and coffee in the morning. Throughout the afternoon and evening, they would bring fruit, water, candy, soda, tacos, and sandwiches.

There was never a shortage of food and drink, and by mid-summer, the waiting room resembled a mini warehouse or a well-stocked emergency preparedness bunker on the eve of a devastating natural disaster. Sandra would remark that the outpouring of support, friendship, and love was “overwhelming.”

As I recovered from surgery on June 18th, Sandra made the first of many difficult decisions that confronted her during the next three months. Erica was still in Washington and scheduled to return with her class two days later on Sunday.  After consulting her mom, sisters, and the hospital social worker, Sandra decided that Erica should come home immediately.

Sandra called Ms. Kathy Cook, the 7th grade American history teacher who led the school’s annual trip to Washington, D.C., to tell her what had happened. Ms. Cook went to Erica’s hotel room to tell her that I was sick again and she had made reservations for Erica to take the first flight out of Washington the next morning. Maya Ruiz, Erica’s good friend from school, volunteered to travel back home with Erica.

Maya’s father Rogelio and I worked together on the school board where he served as the district’s general counsel. We had met years earlier, and became fast friends when we began working together and the girls began middle school. Our friendship would grow stronger that summer despite the fact that I was in a coma and incoherent during most of that time.


Summer in the Waiting Room: How Faith, Family, and Friends Saved My Life, will return on January 7, 2015.

Summer in the Waiting Room: How Faith, Family, and Friends Saved My Life (excerpt #44)

Image by (click on image to read all excerpts)
Image by
(click on image to read all excerpts)

Author’s note: The manuscript of my book, Summer in the Waiting Room: How Faith, Family, and Friends Saved My Life, is divided into three parts. The title of Part 2 is The Waiting Room. Excerpt #44 is the third installment of  The Waiting Room.


Once again, God entered the fray and intervened to calm me as my life hung in the balance. On June 7th, He sent Stacey Cook to the emergency room to strengthen my faith in Him, and on the morning of June 18th, my sister Patty was in the ICU as His messenger of hope and deliverance.

On both occasions, my medical condition was dire. On both occasions, I was at the right place at the right time. If I was anywhere else other than a hospital, I wouldn’t have survived.  My relationship with God had reached another plateau. My faith was moving from being a loyal member of the Catholic Church to a true believer in God’s will.

At the moment I thought I had fallen asleep, my heart had actually come to a complete stop after racing to that stratospheric 280 beats per minute. The medical team immediately went into action to get my heart beating again. Nurses started CPR as technicians quickly prepared the AED paddles needed to shock my heart back to life.

Seconds were rapidly ticking away as the heart monitor standing behind the bed stopped beeping with the familiar peaks and valleys of the LED lights bouncing across the screen, and began to emit a high-pitched steady sound with a solid flat line indicating that the heart was no longer beating.

With AED paddles securely in place on my chest, Dr. Fisk prepared to activate the shockwaves that would send electronic signals to reactivate my heart. In most cases, the doctor would need to send several signals to the heart to regain a normal heartbeat. When Dr. Fisk administered the first shock, my back arched, my chest heaved forward, I sat up, and the heart monitor began beeping again. The procedure had worked.

Two months later, while I continued to heal in a regular hospital room, a nurse named Cat walked in with a wide grin and sincere joy in her eyes. She told me that she was on duty the morning of June 18th and she had heard that I was still in the hospital so she came to see me to share an anecdote about that hectic morning.

She told me about rushing to my room after hearing the public address system announce a “code blue” indicating that an emergency life-or-death situation was unfolding in the hospital.  With a broad smile, she recounted how Dr. Fisk shocked me with the AED paddles and I instantly sat up with a grimace on my face. With eyes wide open, I shouted “oh shit”! Everyone stopped what they were doing and, for a few seconds, the room became quiet and still.

With a thin deadpan smile, Dr. Fisk calmly said, “I think we have a heartbeat.” The room erupted in laughter and relief. Nurse Cat had never experienced something like that in ten years as a cardiac nurse. She wished me the best and urged me to “keep up that fighting spirit” before saying good bye and walking out of the room.

When Sandra and Marisa arrived at the hospital on the morning of June 18th, they hurried to the surgery department while doctors were preparing me for a procedure to dissolve another blockage that completely obstructed the same artery doctors repaired after the first heart episode.

Valerie, who worked just a short drive from the hospital, was already there and had seen me. She sobbed uncontrollably, with tears streaming down her cheeks, as she tightly embraced Sandra and Marisa before the two of them were escorted into the surgery prep room.

The nurse advised Sandra and Marisa to be upbeat and positive when they saw me. I was on a gurney with a clear oxygen mask strapped over my nose and mouth, and I looked scared with the “deer in the headlights” stare. They both assured me that I was going to be fine. I tried to assure them by weakly raising my arms in a two-handed thumbs-up. They both kissed me before my gurney rolled into surgery.

Back in the waiting room, Sandra’s parents, sisters, and their families began to arrive. It had been a surreal week and a half that was difficult for everyone to comprehend. I went from 18-hour workdays to surviving a heart attack to once again fighting for my life in an operating room while my family anxiously waited for the surgeon to walk through the door to deliver the news.

Within an hour, others began to arrive: Melody and Juanita, with Rudy and Will following later in the day, relatives from Sandra’s side of the family, and friends from work. The waiting room was in a state of shock. Eddie Velez stood silently in the waiting room confused, saying to himself, “this is not good.”

As people continued to arrive, there was a collective sense of, “what else can happen”?  George, who arrived in the early afternoon, would later call June 18th, “the longest day.” In the operating room, the heart surgeon performed the same procedure I underwent 11 days earlier.


To read excerpts #43 click here:

Next Wednesday: The aftermath of cardiac arrest…