Monday Meanderings: San Jose’s Best Kept Secret

Speed City Getting Ready to Run (photo courtesy of Twitter @SJCCBasketball #sjcchoops #speedcity )
Speed City Getting Ready to Run
(photo courtesy of Twitter @SJCCBasketball
#sjcchoops #speedcity )

Okay, please bear with me. I’m really going to meander today.

I want to talk about the best kept secret in San Jose. First, let me say this: San Jose doesn’t have a clue how to attract, support, and celebrate big-time sports. There, I said it.

We pride ourselves in being the 10th biggest city in America. Yet, when it comes to sports teams, one of the characteristics of a big-time city, we have but one major-league organization, the National Hockey League Sharks. Oh yeah, we also have the Earthquakes.

I still sting over the voters’ rejection of a ballot measure to build a stadium and bring the Major League Baseball Giants to town in 1990. I can’t forget how the Golden State Warriors used the city to get a better deal in Oakland a few years later. What about the ongoing effort to lure the A’s here?  Don’t even ask. And, please don’t even mention that little hamlet on our northern border getting one of the most storied franchises in NFL history.

For goodness sake, the 40th largest city in America has the Braves (MLB), Hawks (NBA), and Falcons (NFL).

I must also confess that I’m not much of a hockey fan. As someone who is a native of our beloved city, I didn’t play hockey or watch it on TV as a kid, although I do remember that it snowed here once for about 10 minutes when I was in the 7th grade. The Earthquakes is a major league soccer franchise, but its new 18,000-seat stadium is a far cry from the 114,000 seats in Estadio Azteca, Mexico City’s soccer venue.

But, I digress (and meander).

The best kept secret in town is the San Jose City College Jaguars men’s basketball team. The program is also the most successful sports organization in the history of our fair city. Period.

Let’s start with the numbers. During the past 39 years under Coach Percy Carr, the Jags have won 864 games, the most wins for a California college basketball coach ever. Seventeen players have earned All-State honors. The best number, however, is the 97% of players who move on to a four-year college.

On Saturday afternoon, the team clinched its 14th conference championship and 35th playoff appearance in the Carr era by finishing 12-0 in Coast Conference play and 25-3 overall.

And, guess what? No one outside of the SJCC community knows about it. No mention in the Mercury News, no stories on NBC Bay Area, ABC 7, CBS 5, or KTVU Channel 2. Was the mayor on hand on Saturday to celebrate with the college chancellor and president? Nope.

What gives here? How can a city that prides itself on success and innovation completely ignore one of its most successful institutions?

Unfortunately, I don’t know the answer to that. But I know this: San Jose City College basketball is fun to watch! If you love basketball like I do, you won’t find a better place in this town to watch a game than in the Jaguar’s gym. And it’s up close and personal.

The squeak of basketball shoes on the maple floor, the referee’s whistle, coaches shouting directions to the players and scolding officials, and the sweet sound of the ball swishing through the net after a three-point shot can all be found at SJCC.

And, the basketball is big-time. The players are big, strong, fast, talented and well-coached. More than a few of them will play at a NCCA Division I school. Fans call them Speed City. At any given moment, a breathtaking fast break or a thunderous slam-dunk will ignite the small crowd.

Did I mention that the basketball is big-time?

Luckily, this season isn’t over. The Jags will host the first-round of the state playoffs at home on Saturday, February 28th at 7:00 PM. Do yourself a favor. Go watch them play. Follow their quest for a State Championship.

It’s the best kept secret in town.

 

 

 

 

 

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Summer in the Waiting Room: How Faith, Family, and Friends Saved My Life (FINAL EXCERPT)

Image by coriconnors.blogspot.com
Image by coriconnors.blogspot.com

With that resolved, I turned to Sandra as she sat next to me holding my hand.  Breathlessly, I told her that everything would be fine and that we would get through this crisis, even though I kept the doubts to myself.  She agreed with my assessment citing her absolute faith in God.

If for some reason I were not to survive, I asked her between breaths to please make sure that the girls never stop dreaming about their future.  They should remember that they had the ability to accomplish anything.

I also told her how I wanted to celebrate my funeral: a conjunto norteño serenading family and friends with my favorite songs (especially the upbeat happy tunes), Barbara would give a eulogy about my childhood, George would address my professional life, and Marisa and Erica would share stories about their daddy.

With tears streaming down her cheeks, Sandra told me not to think like that.  I held her tighter and assured her that I was sharing my thoughts “just in case.”

Doctors soon arrived to take me to perform the intubation procedure.  The girls came into the ICU to pray with me and wish me luck.  The procedure was standard stuff.  A nurse would give me a small dose of LORazepam to keep me lightly sedated and Vecuronium to relax my muscles so the tube wouldn’t be so uncomfortable.

Once my oxygen stabilized, I would be able to undergo the CT scan. In the meantime, my lungs and body could rest. The doctor said that I would be alert enough to receive visitors, watch TV, and communicate with doctors once the procedure was complete.

In a semi-conscious state in the operating room, I resisted the doctors and struggled to prevent the insertion of the tube. With the pipe securely in place, I continued to twist and turn trying to free my hands to take the tube out. Doctors made a critical decision to sedate me heavily and medically paralyze my body to prevent movement.

Even with the ventilator sending air to my lungs, oxygen saturation levels dipped every time I moved. It was clear to the doctors that the ventilator would be useless if I continued to fight the equipment that was keeping me alive.

The higher dose of sedatives put me into a deep sleep. Until the cause of my lung failure could be identified and resolved, I would have to remain in a medically induced coma.

The administration of strong muscle-relaxing medication would keep my body still, ensuring that the mechanical ventilator breathing for me could effectively deliver badly needed oxygen to my vital organs.

Both actions came with potential for long-term side effects to my brain and body. Research has demonstrated that patients remaining in a medically induced coma for an extended period of time could suffer a loss of cognitive skills, permanent brain damage, or worse. Every day I remained paralyzed, muscle memory would deteriorate and my ability to physically function would be compromised.

When the lead doctor emerged from the operating room, he explained to Sandra what steps were taken to stabilize my situation. Without emotion and with strength of character that could only be sustained by unconditional faith, Sandra intently listened to the report.

My medical condition took another turn toward the unknown, to a place that even the doctors admitted was new territory. Although my heart was in a critically fragile state, it was secondary to the inexplicable virtual shutdown of my lungs.

Despite everything that my body had endured during the past three weeks – heart attack, cardiac arrest, and dangerously low oxygen levels – there could still be more complications and surprises to come. The cardiac team had been relieved of its duties for the time being and the pulmonologists and critical care staff would work around the clock to address the lung issues. The next 72 hours would prove crucial to my survival.

I was back in the ICU resting while connected to the machines that kept me breathing and a myriad of IV tubes that fed, medicated, and monitored me. Numbers across a computer screen provided minute-to-minute updates of my heart rate, temperature, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation.

The beeping and whirring sounds of the machines musically accompanied the sharp green lines and flashing LED lights that danced on monitors in a mesmerizing ballet displaying even more information for the medical team. A nurse was stationed in my room with one eye on me and the other on the devices surrounding my bed.

With hospital personnel moving about the room, the scene looked like a war room preparing for the battle of a lifetime.

Just yards away outside of the plain white double doors and inside the single door that led to the white and avocado green ICU waiting room in Department 2300 at Kaiser Santa Clara Medical Center, everyone gathered – the extended Peralta family, my sister Barbara and her family, Rudy and Melody, Will and Juantita, and many others – to wait for news from the operating room.

They were once again stunned when the doctor provided an update on the situation. In the eerie quiet that followed, the group instinctively formed a prayer circle, held hands, and silently urged God to intervene.

The entry in my medical record at the end of the day on June 29, 2010, simply read, “Intubated, sedated, and paralyzed.”

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summer-cover-photo
Click on image to read all excerpts

Author’s note: This passage is the conclusion of Chapter 5, “Buen Corazón,” of my book, Summer in the Waiting Room: How Faith, Family, and Friends Saved My Life.  

THIS IS THE FINAL EXCERPT IN THE BLOG SERIES! You can catch up on what you missed by clicking on the image above.

The rest of the story will be published in the book, Summer in the Waiting Room: How Faith, Family, and Friends Saved My Life. Make sure to get your copy when the book is available later this summer.

FEEL FREE TO SHARE THIS STORY WITH YOUR FRIENDS!

With heartfelt gratitude, thank you for reading.

Eddie García

San Jose, California

February 11, 2015

Monday Meanderings: Walking Along the Path of Faith

spiritual-journey

I’ve spent a lot of time lately thinking about faith.

Faith is a powerful word and an even more powerful force. It’s been the catalyst for the most important movements in the history of the world. We hear the word all the time, usually in times of great sorrow and fear.

But, what does it mean?

No one really knows, and I think that’s the point.

We can start with the religious concept of the word. It is the foundation of all religious beliefs. Whether you practice Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism or any other organized religion, faith is the cornerstone. The short story is that God is in charge and the secret to a productive and happy life is accepting that fact.

In non-religious terms, New Age thinkers and motivational speakers have stirred people through positive thinking and believing in oneself. The wisdom they share has inspired countless people to achieve success and improve their lives by accepting “universal laws” and using them to realize personal and professional dreams.

Even pragmatic practitioners of the scientific method rely on a form of faith to explain why things like gravity and the rotations of planets around the sun exist. Scientific research has explained what causes these phenomena and how they work. However, science doesn’t answer why they happen, so they are accepted as Universal or Natural Law.

What do all three of these examples have in common? Acceptance of what can’t be explained. This is the basis of faith.

Since the summer a massive heart attack changed my life, I’ve been on a personal faith journey with bridge crossings marked by calming enlightenment and uncomfortable uncertainty. I fully accept what occurred that summer and understand how it happened.

Every now and then, I arrive at a bridgehead of doubt. The nagging why seeps into my consciousness and causes hesitation. Why me? Why now? Why has my life taken this dramatic turn?

While pondering those questions, I remember how I survived a harrowing heart attack, sudden cardiac arrest, and life-threatening lung failure. I remember the many family, friends, and even strangers who prayed for my survival. I remember learning again how to walk, talk, and eat after a month in a paralytic coma. I remember that I’m alive.

Then I thank God for what I have and move on along the path with gratitude.

As I meander through the unknowns of the trail, the why crossings are fewer and further apart. Pauses at the entrance to those insecure bridges of uncertainty become ever shorter as I get closer to the gates of true and unconditional faith.

And my  journey lives for another day…

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COMING Wednesday: The FINAL EXCERPT of Summer in the Waiting Room: How Faith, Family, and Friends Saved My Life. If you missed last week’s excerpt, click here:https://esereport.com/2015/02/04/summer-in-the-waiting-room-how-faith-family-and-friends-saved-my-life-excerpt-50/

East Side Eddie Report Surpasses 30,000 Views!!

Image by vintagevelvets.blogspot.com
Image by vintagevelvets.blogspot.com

East Side Eddie Report.com now has more than the 30,000 views!!

Thank you!  Thank you!  Thank you!

Check out the features and the Tags on this Homepage to see what all the fuss is about.

The most viewed feature on this blog is Summer in the Waiting Room: How Faith, Family, and Friends Saved My Life. It’s the real story of a man who failed early in life and vowed never to fail again. So he worked tirelessly trying to redeem himself, only to find true redemption while in a state of complete helplessness in the ICU. Here’s the link to the series:

https://esereport.com/summer-in-the-waiting-room/

As always, I would love to hear from you. Please let me know what you think and share your ideas on future stories.  Thanks so much for your support!!

Eddie García

San Jose, California

February 5, 2015

Summer in the Waiting Room: How Faith, Family, and Friends Saved My Life (excerpt #50)

Image by www.knowing-jesus.com
Image by http://www.knowing-jesus.com

Author’s note: The following passage is from Chapter 5, “Buen Corazón,” of my book, Summer in the Waiting Room: How Faith, Family, and Friends Saved My Life.  This is the 50th excerpt in the series.

THERE IS ONLY ONE MORE EXCERPT LEFT!

The conclusion of Chapter 5 and the final excerpt in this blog series will post next Wednesday, February 11, 2015. Look for the book, Summer in the Waiting Room: How Faith, Family, and Friends Saved My Life, scheduled to be published and available later this summer.

To catch up on what you missed, click on the image above to read excerpts#1-#49.

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In a panic, I tugged and pulled at the restraints holding the mask in place desperately trying to unwrap it from my head. I didn’t want die in such a vulnerable state.  The straps were tight and seemed to be configured in a complex pattern so I couldn’t figure out how to disconnect the mask.  I couldn’t hear anything because of the hurricane blowing in my face, but I could see the red and green LED lights from the monitors bouncing up and down in a haphazard dance.

Within seconds, the nurse burst into the room and attempted to soothe my fears.  He was a young Asian-American man in his late 20s named Louie.  He had a comforting bedside manner and calmly explained that the BIPAP mask would help me breathe and get better.  Undeterred, I continued to tug and pull at the mask. Louie never lost composure and continued to assure me that everything would be okay.

Sandra came into the room right away to help the nurse calm me down.  She lovingly caressed the top of my head and added her assurances making me feel safe and comfortable despite the roaring windstorm inside the mask.  With Sandra by my side, Louie administered a strong dose of sedatives that would help me sleep through the storm.

The next morning I was back on the clear non-breather mask struggling to catch my breath as Sandra and I waited for the doctor to outline the plan of action.  The doctor arrived with grim news, oxygen levels continued to drop even with the BIPAP machine.  She suggested that a CT scan would help them better understand the cause of the lung issues.

A Computer Tomographic scan is a technology that uses computer-processed x-rays to produce an image of virtual slices of specific areas of the scanned object, allowing the user to see what is inside it without cutting it open.  However, the doctor couldn’t approve the scan until my breathing stabilized, so she recommended re-intubation.

My first reaction was negative, in my mind I said “hell no!”  The intubation tube was a hundred times more painful that the BIPAP machine.  After further explanation and thoughtful reflection, I realized that I had no choice.  Re-intubation was the only way to keep me alive while doctors tried to figure out what was wrong with my lungs.

After a barrage of questions and satisfactory answers, I gave my approval to do the procedure.  The doctor scheduled the intubation for later that afternoon and left me and Sandra in the room alone.

After all we had been through in the past three weeks – the heart attack, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrest – I finally came face-to-face with the prospect of dying.  In just a few minutes, an eternity of thoughts swept across my mind.  What would happen to Sandra and the girls?

Sandra would be fine I reasoned, but the girls were still in their formative and impressionable years.  With unconditional love and support from Sandra and the Peraltas, they should be okay I hoped.  My relationship with God was still forming, so I thought and reasoned instead of prayed. Unconditional faith wasn’t yet part of my being and my vocabulary. I still wanted answers that were clear and logically determined.

Since Sandra was the one who maintained unquestioned faith, I believed that the moment required pragmatic thinking on my part. Answers came quickly: I had life insurance so they wouldn’t have to face financial hardship, especially with Sandra’s financial discipline and savvy.  Sandra was young enough to find another mate if she wanted and smart enough not to let a negative person into the girls’ lives.

The Peraltas would wrap the girls in a cocoon of love as tight, or tighter, than the one I had at Viewmont Avenue.  Convinced that everyone would be safe and sound, I began to relax and not fear death.  Surprisingly, I wasn’t scared and felt like I would come to terms with dying.  The worst case scenario was that I would go to sleep and not emerge from the sedation needed for the procedure.

With my growing, although far from mature, bond with God, and my concerns resolved through solid reasoning, I was prepared for whatever lay ahead. Little did I know that Sandra’s faith would be a much more powerful force than any rational thoughts I could conjure up.

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Next Wednesday: The FINAL excerpt of the blog series!!