February 23, 2021

The Meningitis Experience

Fellow survivor, National Meningitis Association Advocate and podcast host, Adam Busuttil, stops by to share his meningitis story and the similarities with John’s story. They also discuss their road back to college and the importance of mental health checks along the way. Adam also discusses his podcast, The Dad Experience.

 


Episode Transcript:

John:

Adam, welcome to the Ambiguously Blind Podcast.

Adam Busuttil:

Thanks for having me, John. Really happy to be here. Really excited to talk to you a little bit about some things we have in common and quite a few after we talked on kind of offline here a little bit. So I'm really excited to talk to you.

John:

We do have quite a few things in common. The, the beginning of our things in common as meningitis though, we're both meningitis survivors and I think we got it pretty close to the same age and pretty close to the same time period.

Adam Busuttil:

Yeah. Yeah. I I contracted meningitis in 1999 in October of 1999. I was19. I was a sophomore at Michigan state university. So I don't know is that you were a year before me, I think maybe is that when we talked about?

John:

Yes, I was February of 1998. I was also a sophomore at Texas Tech University out in Lubbock, which is in west Texas. I am familiar with Michigan State. So we were the same class of in school, but about a year or so apart.

Adam Busuttil:

Yup, yup, yup, yup. Yeah. So I had it in 99 while at Michigan State University. I you know, it was, it was crazy whirlwind. I didn't know much about it. My family knew nothing about it and it kinda took us by storm, you know, so I I'm realistic and really how it happened is, you know, just, just like a lot of stories. You know, we had some of, some of the things that typical signs, but not totally. So like I always start off like the Friday night before I, I went to the hospital and was diagnosed with meningitis. It was, I was in the Michigan State marching band. And when we get together on Friday nights, just cause we get up so early on Saturday morning on game day, morning, it was actually a big day too. It was the Michigan/Michigan State game. And I know you we've talked a little bit about, but the big game, it was a big deal. And I just, you know, so the Friday before I was hanging out with some friends and I felt a little under the weather, so I said, I'm just gonna go home, go to sleep. I'll see everybody in the morning and rehearsal. And I did that and woke up part way through that night in the early, you know, late at night, early that morning and had the chills had a fever. Wasn't feeling good. Took my temperature. I actually called my parents just saying, I'm not feeling good. They're like, well, just say, you know, take it easy. We're coming up the next day. You know? So I did, I took the temperature, went back to sleep, woke up in the morning. Couldn't do any of this stuff for marching band that day. I called in for that stuff and I was terrified because I'm like, man, I'm missing this game. People probably think that I'm like, I don't want them to think that I'm like crazy or was out partying or something the night before and why the morning, that was the thing that was concerning me at that point. And so I missed all those rehearsals and I was hoping that I would make it for the game and step off and all that good stuff to, for pregames and all that good stuff. And so yeah, I got to game time and I still wasn't feeling great. So I just said, listen, I can't be there I go. There's no way I wasn't making it. I was you know sick. At that point, my, my parents were up and my brother was going to school there as well. He was, he's a few years older than me. And then his birthday is actually on October 10th and this is October 9th. So we were going to celebrate his birthday and I said, well, you guys go to the game, I'm going to stay in my dorm. You know, I'll, you know, try and get some better I'll I'll I'll we call it a call and call a nurse line and kind of explain the symptoms. Then the call-in nurse basically said, you're probably dehydrated, have the flu eat something, drink some liquids. Then I did. And I was starting to feel a little bit better. My parents went to the game and I do remember Michigan State winning that game, which was a bummer because I wasn't at the game, but that's all right. I, you know, I was here, right. So I was feeling a little better. So, you know, normally when I, you know, want to refresh myself and kinda get back into the swing of things, I try, I go and take a shower just to kind of maybe give me a second wind. And so I made it to the shower. I was showering and I remember passing out in the shower and then I remembered like toweling off and crawling back to bed and crawling in bed. And my parents came back from the game with my brother and, you know, a couple of years before I was sick, there were a couple of Michigan State students that had been diagnosed with meningitis. And then I think they, unfortunately I think they passed, I'm not a hundred percent sure. So I'm hoping that I'm correct on that. It's been so long now and you know, I don't have the facts in front of me, but I'm pretty sure at least one of them passed. So my brother kind of had an inkling, something was not right. And you remember the story when he was in school before I, you know, before I was even there. Cause we gotta take him to the hospital. I'm like, I'm fine. I'll be all right. I'm good. You know, and I really didn't want to go to the hospital cause I'm a college kid. I was healthy. I was, I was in the marching band. I wasn't, I was working out basically with them every day of the week. Preparing and I was a, it was a drummer. So it wasn't like, I was like bottom end of the athletic ability. I'm not an athlete by any means, but I was in decent shape for, for that time. So my body, you know, it's just so I said, I'll be fine. I didn't want to go to the hospital. It wasn't a big deal. And so they finally got me down there. My, my brother actually did cause it was game day. So they were parked way away. So I brought the car and I remember my mom taking me down and I passed out on her in the high and then in the elevator and I'm, I'm six foot one and she's just not short. She's like five, eight, five, nine, but still, you know, I'm six, one pass out. She basically got me to and they brought the car and went off I'm in the whole time there though that I was kind of in and out of like just not feeling great. They I kept telling him like, God, these people are gonna probably think I'm on drugs or something and I'm just sick. So we get to, you know, my brother got me to the hospital. I don't know how fast he got there, but he got there pretty quick from my recollection. And they got me in and I don't really remember a ton when they brought me into the ER, they got me back right away and they started testing know, I didn't have any of the symptoms that would just say, wow, that's meningitis. They were getting ready to do some more tests, you know, does he have a temperature? I didn't have a temp at that time. You know, what, what, you know, I was really dehydrated. So, and you know, I just don't th th none of the symptoms, I didn't have any bruising, nothing like that. All of a sudden they said, we'll check his temperature again. And all of a sudden, just remember I had a cousin that's was a resident doctor. He came up from Detroit, which don't know how I got there that fast either, but he was there with my doctors and I just remember them saying, you know, he's crashing. And I remember hearing numbers going off when I was, you know, in the ER there. And I remember looking at my cousin and said, I'm not going home today, but you make sure you tell my parents I will be home. And that's really the last I remember from there. I just know that my blood pressure had hit 50 over15. And basically for two or three days, I was in an induced coma, just basically sedated so that I wouldn't mess with any tubes or wires if I came through. But they didn't know at that point for 24, 48 hours if I would have any sort of brain damage or anything like that. So I think about 24 hours after I was sick, I remember kind of coming to, and I had a buddy there that I'm the real good friend of mine who has done a lot for me as far as, you know, getting me back on my feet and making helping me be able to play again as a percussionist. I'm a music teacher by trade. But I remember looking at him and going, man, I'm really sick and I'm in Sparrow Hospital and they can't pronounce my last name. Yeah.

John:

I can relate to that.

Adam Busuttil:

Can't pronounce my last name. I'm in, I'm in the ICU. And I had this thing called meningitis and they were like, you know, they, they, first of all, they're shocked, but you know, on their own mind, they're celebrating a little bit here because they're like, well, we know that there's not a whole lot of, like, if there's any sort of brain damage there he's actually able to retain. And my cognitive cognitive abilities were there. And I had my, you know, I had all, all my receptors there and I was kinda kind of in tune with all that and just remember waking up. And I see my, my hands were bandaged. I was being treated like a burn unit in a burn unit because that's actually where they moved me to when they stepped me out of the ICU, they put me in the burn unit just because of all the different scarring I had and the debridement they've had to do. Um I had some plastic surgery when I was in Lansing to, to fix a lip that was kind of split down. Then they, I was in the hospital for three weeks, between therapies, figuring out what going to do, getting better. And they suggested you, I was going to relate and told me I was going to have to have amputations. And the hospital in Lansing was like, well, we're going to, you know, have to go to this point on his hand, he's going to lose this and that. And I had a percussion teacher that basically said, she said, listen, save anything you can do to save as much of his hands as you can. And we'll work with it. We'll make it work, he'll graduate. And so the occupational therapist over and said, we'll ask the doctor and the surgeon here where they would go if their child was in the situation they did. So they ended up sending us to the there's a hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, the Jewish Hospital, where they did actually the firsthand transplant surgery. When that doctor was my doctor, they weren't functioning, but they did a hand transplant and I was successful. And so they, they had me down there for another three. So I was in the hospital and these Lansing for three weeks for recovering from meningitis and just kind of getting that one surgery, taken care of the plastic surgery on my lip and just kind of recovering. So then from there, we went straight down to Louisville. We drove down there and I was in that hospital while I was in their outpatient treatment for two weeks, because, or a week I can remember was a week or two weeks. It might've been two where a week and a half, but I was down there because they had me doing whirlpool therapy. And that was to kinda, you know, regenerate tissue in my hands and stuff. And they actually saved more of my hand than they were thinking about in Lansing. So it was a good thing we went down there. So I was in the hospital and surgeries down there for three weeks. I underwent a six plus hour surgery on just the amputations of I'm missing my big toe, my second toe and part of my fourth and fifth on my left foot. And I'm missing parts of my first finger, my middle finger and my ring finger on my left hand and my all for my, my my hand to just the finger, middle finger pointer, finger, middle finger, ring, finger, and pinky part down all the way down to that second knuckle on my right hand. So I did lose some of that. And I had a lot of scarring and tissue. They actually, at one point thought in Lansing that they were going have to amputate my arm, which I'm lucky that they didn't do that. And I'm very happy they didn't. You know, I know the range of symptoms of meningitis and the effects, the lasting effects that's what people don't totally understand. They're all day where they range so much. And I know we've talked about this off, off the mic a little bit, but, you know, I, you know, just for me, you know, You know, and I, and I don't know how you've taken or others have taken it, but for me, I'm like, man, I'm lucky. I'm a one I'm above ground. I'm not, I didn't, I didn't, you know, unfortunately, or fortunately fall victim to passing away from it. So I was very lucky in that aspect. Right. Absolutely. And then, you know, I look at it and you know, for me, I did, I have to relearn things. Yeah. I had to relearn everyday life. People don't realize that that's, those are the lasting effects. I'll never get my fingers back. I'll never get, I mean, there's prosthetics, but it doesn't do the same thing. You know, for me, it's not the same. And at this point in my life, I've lived longer without, than I have with. But, you know, it's just, there's, there's all these lasting effects you don't realize. And then the trauma on top of that, that you deal with, you know, either with what I put my parents through and my brother through in my, my really good friends and family. So there's a lot of things people don't realize, you think you get sick, it's meningitis, you get, you're recovering it's over. And you know, that's not always the case, obviously a lot of times it results in death or, you know, sometimes it will result in major, you know, long longterm injuries that we sustained from meningitis. So it's kinda my story in a nutshell you know, I'm sure I missed a couple of little details here and there, but you know, that's kinda what I went through. So I really, really, I always like to kind of bring this point home. I was healthy at like six o'clock on a Friday night, nine o'clock. I wasn't feeling so great with my friends. I went home, I had like a cough or a cold, just a stuffy nose. I was rundown. So I need to get sleep. Cause I knew, you know, game day is a huge day. You start at five in the morning. I don't get home. If it's a three 30 game until nine, 10 o'clock or 11, 12 o'clock at night, whatever time, you know, game lasts four hours, if it's nationally televised it's long. So, you know, I would wanted to get some rest and, you know, by so six o'clock on a Friday or nine o'clock on a Friday to six o'clock on a Saturday, I went from a healthy college student that was in decent shape to the college student that contracted meningitis with a blood pressure of 50 over15 and almost basically dead. So I mean, that's what I like to tell people. And you know, I don't like to tell them that, but what I live and what I will always want to get across and share as I went, it was that quick. It was that quick and not having a lot of the symptoms. And, and even with that short of a range, when you see those symptoms, is it maybe too late? You know what I mean? So like, it's, it's such a weird, horrible disease. That's just so hard to pinpoint other than we know that there's vaccination out there and the vaccination is very, very effective with the booster and everything. So I think they're still doing the booster. You might have better information with me with evidence. I think it's still a booster and then the other shot. So, but yeah, there's vaccination out there. That's so, so, so could have saved my life. Definitely.

John:

Just to back up a minute, there's a lot of things to unpack there. So I'm going to ask you some, want to talk a little bit about some of the things you just said, but regarding vaccines. Yeah, the best of my knowledge, there are at least five strands. There's five strains of meningitis, A, C, W, Y and B and the A, C, W and Y are available. Well, actually all of them are, have a vaccine. A, C, W, Y strands are all grouped together in one vaccine, which I think you get around age 11 and then there's a booster available around age 16. And then there's also a meningitis B vaccine that's available around age 16 as well. So,

Adam Busuttil:

Oh, there's three. So the booster is the booster to the meningococcal the vaccine for the A, C, W, Y and then you get a second one at 16 and then B you get at 16. So there's technically three shots to get one a booster and then the B yeah, correct. Got it. So see, I didn't know, a hundred percent anymore. I'm glad you corrected me cause I don't want to give wrong information. Yeah.

John:

Oh wait. No, no, we do not now. Do you know what strand you had?

Adam Busuttil:

Yes, I did. I had w. So I would have been even back then because the B funny enough the NMA has sent me to, to, to, to meet some folks a few years back through one of the vaccination companies, I believe it was Novartis. And they they, I think the B strain and just been approved or been, you know, use for, I don't know if it was in the UK or if it was in the States at that point, I can't remember, but it was really awesome to hear that. And I got to talk to the person that kind of helped design that vaccine, which was super cool to me, which was really neat to talk to, and just, you know, share my story and just appreciate that other folks are able to get this and hopefully be, you know, we can, they can save some lives from it, which I'm sure they already have not, you know, not to hope. I'm pretty sure they already have. So yeah, it was, that was neat. So when I was in school, unfortunately, B was a very common strain and it was prevalent. There wasn't a vaccine for it, but I had w so mine would have been covered had I known about the vaccine.

John:

Yeah, I think I had the, B strand myself. I don't, I'm not a hundred percent certain about that, but from the people I talked to in the records that I have, it looks like it was the B strand. I want to go back a little bit to the Friday and Saturday, so you're okay Friday. You skipped practice. You go to the hospital to the hospital Saturday morning.

Adam Busuttil:

No. So Friday. So here it is on Friday night. It's a little bit, maybe I was a little confused as a Friday night. I was, I was healthy. It was fine. It was hanging out with friends Saturday morning. I missed a rehearsal cause like late Saturday and Friday night, early Saturday morning, I wasn't feeling good. Like I'd like, flu like symptoms. That's really, I guess the only symptom that I really had before I went into the hospital. So Friday I was under the weather early Friday or late Friday night, early Saturday morning. I was flu like symptoms. I missed the rehearsal Saturday morning. I'm starting to feel a little bit better. Did the call a nurse parents were there, you know, for, it was probably, I don't know if it was a noon or a three o'clock game. I can't remember now it's been so long, but they were there for the game. I remember them coming. They went to the game that came back as, and that's when I was six. So I guess like six years, it must've been a noon game. Cause by six o'clock you know, that's when everything started to crash and I was, you know, pretty much on my deathbed,

John:

Your parents, how far away were your parents from? What city is Michigan State in?

Adam Busuttil:

They live, Michigan State's in East Lansing. They live in the Detroit area, the Metro Detroit area in the suburbs of Detroit. And, but they were already there. Like I said, they were there for the game. So they ended up, I was lucky that they were there. They didn't have to come up. So, I mean, they're an hour and a half away, but you know, they, I just was lucky enough that it was on a Saturday and I, and they happened to be there for probably the, one of the biggest games of the year.

John:

Yes, that game was okay, hold on. I just looked up the score. You said 99, right?

Adam Busuttil:

It was 99 and it was a very, it was like a field goal win I think or something like that.

John:

Michigan State beat Michigan 34 to 31 that day.

Adam Busuttil:

Yeah. It was close game. I know that.

John:

Yeah. Okay. So back to where you are now you are, so you're going to the hospital, your parents are there, your brother's there and you've got a friend that's coming in from Detroit as well. How long were you in the hospital there?

Adam Busuttil:

So, yeah, I was not hospital in East Lansing for three weeks. So I was in ICU for about a week or so this is where it gets a little hazy because I don't, I didn't really investigate this too much after the fact. And then I was in the burn unit, which is honestly, it was basically very similar to the ICU at that point. I mean, because it's such a, you know, every there's like a lint-free area they had to where it was kind of like what you're dealing with now with COVID with masking and being clean and sanitary with everything. Cause it was, you know, it was a burn unit. And then for me having, you know, the disease, you know, they just wanted to make sure I was healthy and didn't get anything else from it to complicate it.

John:

Yeah. And just to re state what you said earlier as you're a perfectly healthy 24 hours later, you're not, or something along those lines, it is extremely fatal. A lot of people do not make it through this. A lot of people are misdiagnosed and don't make it through it. And then there are people like us who I would consider to be extremely blessed and fortunate that are diagnosed at some point correctly and treated correctly at the facilities that we were, we were fortunate enough to be at, but it is very fast and very fatal. And it's, you know, it, the lasting effects from meningitis. I mean, to, to this day, you know, we both, we both, we live with the, the, the remanence of, and the memory. Maybe not think about it all the time, but we're, we're different than we were then. And we can point the meningitis for that.

Adam Busuttil:

Yeah, no, absolutely. I've got, you know, every day, you know, I think about it and it's, it's fortunate and unfortunate cause I, you know, I'm really happy to be alive. Would I, would I not want to go through all that again? You know, there's parts of my life that I think it really opened me up to you know, as a person, as a human being. But I mean, there was a lot of pain and suffering, especially for my family. Kind of seeing me go through that, but you know, like you said, it is, it's there all the time. You know, when I'm teaching, I teach by day and that's my trade. I deal with kids talk, I talk to kids about it all the time. They see it all the time, which is a good thing too though, because you know, I teach at the high school level. So a lot of those students are going to go off into college and

John:

They don't go to those things.

Adam Busuttil:

Right. So they don't necessarily know about it. So I mean, yeah, but I live with every day, you know, but it's something that I've gotten used to in, like you said, you know, I'm very blessed and feel very lucky and fortunate to come away with it the way that I did. And you know, it's, it's just, it was a part of what it was. And you know, there are things that, that it didn't make me a better person to you. Don't take, don't take life for granted. I, I became a lot more open and outgoing with folks. So it's, you know, it had its trade-off and I'm not trying to say, let's go out and get meningitis cause that's not what I want

John:

. but yeah, but

Adam Busuttil:

It, but it is, it's always there. It's always fine. You know, as I've gotten older, it's a little bit easier. Just I've lived my life now longer without having parts of my, my fingers in the toes than I did with them. And you know, I I've used prosthetics. I've used them in the past. I have a set that is being made that are awesome. They're going to help me with, with teaching, but my everyday life it's like, this is who I am. I go to Shea, it's weird to me. I, I almost feel more and not embarrassed cause that's not the word I wanna use. I feel more self-conscious when I wear the prosthetic that I have than I would, if I just walked into the gas station to, to, to buy a soda than if I had it on like, just be so it's it's I think the, the older I get, the more it's kinda, it's kinda like grieving, it's grieving, you know, a loss or something. And it's it's you never forget about the memory, but you know, you learn to kind of move on and look at positive sides of it. That's what I try to do.

John:

Yeah, that that's the best way to do it. So the, the biggest takeaway from you physically, what was there a lot of, was there a lot of rehabilitation, physical type or rehabilitation?

Adam Busuttil:

Yeah. There was actually, so, you know, when you don't think about it, but you lose fingers. Yeah. I had to learn how to button a shirt, then, you know, put a key in a hole or pick up a penny off of it table or off the ground. That was not an easy one to learn, but you know, you have to do that. So I was in, so as soon as I was out, I was so six weeks hospital, all that time, I was doing PT, OT all the way through. So then I was in pretty much, I want to say it was like three or four days a week. I was in it might've been five days a week that I was in PTO team every day or for five days a week. And we would just, you know, I would learn, it started with walking to, you know, in the hospital to tying shoes, to doing everyday life and learning those skills to then learning how to be a music major.

Adam Busuttil:

So they had me take a year off of school. So I lost a whole year, you know, after talking to my doctor an amazing doctor, there was a fellow with the folks that I had in Louisville that was practicing in Detroit. So it was really nice that I was able to kind of follow up with somebody that had gone through the same or they were, they were a part of that lineage. So so I had lots of PT/OT and then, yeah. You know, I, I was Michigan State made their first bowl game, a decent bowl game in a long time that year. And I still remember telling though the therapist I'm like, man, like, because I got home, like Thanksgiving weekend is when I got home from the hospital in Louisville. And so when I, for my, they removed all the staples and stitches and all that. And I was talking to the therapist, the physical therapist or occupational therapist, I was like, yeah, I really want to go to the bowl game was probably not possible. She's like, no, you gotta be here doing your therapy. Well, I like that's when I lost it. Cause like really part, a big part of me surviving was being in the marching band. They would visit me all the time in the hospital. They, the, the, the band director there at Michigan State would come and visit me every day. He had the students, you know, they can't lead in prayer. So what they did is they sing the Alma Mater every day before rehearsal, I believe it was before. And they would come up to the front of the field and sing, and then they would talk about me everyday. So I mean the power and like that group in that, that, that the, those people was amazing at that. So other than my, you know, that's in my family, the marching band or those friends that I have still to this day really did save my life. And so I really wanted to be a part of that game, kind of looping back to what we're talking about, why I really wanted to go to that that bowl game. And that therapist kind of crushed my dreams and I literally lost it. So I was in tears. I'm sitting there and my doctor who was also a Michigan State grad a very, very fine, fine, man. He looked at what's wrong. We hurting him like, no, I mean, yeah, you're hurting and you're pulling out thousands of staples and stitches, but that's never why I'm upset. And I, you know, I said, I'm not calling. And he looked at me, he goes, who told you that? I, that I didn't want to rat the woman out. I felt really bad. And he looked at, he knew who it was. He looked and said, no, he'll be going. And we're going to make sure he goes, and we're not going to stop him from doing anything. So I was home from the hospital. Thanksgiving was probably later in the year that year. Cause I remember three weeks later, I was on an airplane going down to Orlando for the Citrus Bowl. And I marched and played in quite a few parades. I participated in the halftime show. So, you know, I, I, I have to say, like I said, I was lucky. I was in really good shape that marching band in more ways than one, you know, through the, through the power of my friends, in that group. And just to support to to just being in shape. I mean, you don't think of band students being in shape unless you are a band student yourself or your band parent or your band director, whatever you've never been involved in. You don't think that band is that physical or marching band. And it is, especially when you get to the collegial level. I mean, it is, it really is the moving you do, could I compete with the football players? Absolutely not. But thank God I was in that could of shaped from, from that program.

John:

So you're playing percussion, right? So what is percussion like when you're not fully equipped with all the fingers that you're used to?

Adam Busuttil:

A lot of thinking outside of the box and being creative. First of all, thank God, it wasn't, again, I, wasn't a creative, a creative discipline that you can kind of, you know, work, work with. Well, if it's, if it doesn't look right, does that mean it's wrong? You know what I mean? Kind of thinking critically about things. So looking at different angles of how we can. So we did back then find a prosthetic company that was more cosmetic, but they took a liking to me. So I had that friend I was telling you about, who's an amazing musician and performer. He performs out in TC. Now he's one, one of the big, the big groups that do all the presentations he's in the military band does all the presidential stuff, but he modeled his hand so that they could create curvature for playing four mallets. I did have enough. So four mallets means two mallets in each hand, I did have enough length in my hands to be able to play. Like drum set, things like that. I played in the basketball band. I played, you know, and did all the concert band stuff. The things that were really a little more difficult to do were the ability to teach all the instruments. So like on clarinet, you have to cover holes. Well, I can't cover holes and I have different lengths of my hands. You know, to hold a flute is not easy. Brass instruments aren't so bad for me to play, but ones that have led a lot, a lot of keys, like saxophone to get my hands around it or to cover holes or forget oboe and bassoon with all the half fingerings and stuff you have to do on those instruments. So I was, I mean, those things I had to learn, how to, how can I demonstrate to kids or to students in a way that they will understand, but I cannot physically show them. And so it's been a lot of thinking outside the box. The one thing that sticks with me and I'll never forget is my percussion professor said, you know, it doesn't matter what you look like. It's, you know, if you, when they do auditions or whatever, if I were to go on and play, they're always blind anyways. You go in behind where the, what I mean by blind auditions, as they go behind a curtain and the people in the audience, they don't, they don't know who you are, how you're playing. So if you get a sound that sounds beautiful. It's going to sound beautiful, no matter how you do it. So she don't ever get caught up in the minutia of does this look right? Or it doesn't look like you could take a picture of it and put it in a textbook. So, yeah, I, you know, th those are the things that kind of stuck with me. So trying to just think outside of the box, but again, it was a long road. I wasn't at back to where I was my freshman year. When I walked through those doors at Michigan state, I wasn't there until at least a year and a half to two years later, I wasn't back to that. So it took me two years just to get to the physical skill sets I had, you know, the, obviously the musical that's stuff, I could keep learning the stuff that's cognitive, you can learn, but those physical things, I wasn't even back in shape to like, this is where I'm at, so I can get out and perform till at least two years later, I think a year and a half, two years later. So it was a long road it's still to this day, like I said, I'm still trying to figure out how can I demonstrate clarinet better? How can I demonstrate flute better? And then it's all because they don't have fingers. So, you know, or I don't, I've, I've lacked not a total gone, but parts of the fingers, the ones that, the fingertips that are important that I need to cover holes or do whatever I would need to do.

John:

Okay. So let's go back a little bit further now, again, and you talked about the rehabilitation in the hospital, you mentioned walking again, and just very basic human functions was that cause I've experienced that myself with, with just, okay, we're going to walk or we're going to sit up in bed after being in bed for a week or however many, however many it was. So was how did you make it through those basic skills being relearned without being just without totally losing your mind

Adam Busuttil:

Support. I'm telling ya. I, knowing that I had that, you know, what it was, I honestly, it was that band. It really was not only the support, but knowing that I wasn't going to give up playing in the Michigan State marching band and drum line because I was sick. I was going to figure out a way to do it. And that's kinda what my motivation, that and my family they're with me a hundred percent all the way. And you know, my parents, my brother, my cousins, I had, I had family from Europe. My dad was born in Malta, which is a little country on a tiny country, South of Sicily. And, and they sent two of my uncles when I woke up two of my uncles were there. And they were ready to send more so that support. I had a support system and I'm very lucky and I just wanted to do it because I still had things left to do. I still wanted to be a musician. I still wanted to perform. I still wanted to be a college student. I still wanted to be in that marching band. And those were my driving factors, you know, and, and in, in having those, those educators around me, those teachers, those professors, those band directors, those, you know, administrators, they, they having them in my corner and then being creative and working with me, you know, I can, I can say without a doubt that, you know, I sure if I went anywhere else would have been fine, but the folks in Michigan's did I only one time where I had an issue with somebody where they said, well, there's this something you really can do. And, and, you know, it was the only time they, everybody, there was a hundred percent encouraging still to this day, you know, there's, there's, there's folks that I'll never, I can't thank enough and I don't know how to repay them because I'm, I'm here standing and able to still do what I love.

John:

Yeah, I can relate to that too. The support system for me was, was tremendous. And I think that that kind of is a common thread that runs through people that survive any traumatic experience. And in particular, as I talked to meningitis survivors seems to be the case as well, a lot of family and a lot of support. It seems like I was at, I was at college as well, so I can totally relate to the administrative element of that and the professors and teachers and things like that too. So it's really something that it seems like it's, you know, let's, we're going to walk five steps today and we're going to walk 10 steps tomorrow and it's, it's so basic that it's just, it, it really boggles your mind to think that, okay, I'm, I'm 19, I'm 18 years old. And I'm learning how to walk like a child that might be 10 months old or 18 months older, you know, something like that. So it's just really crazy. And my family and my faith and my friends were extremely important to me during that. And that's mostly what brought me through that. So let's walk a little forward to let's let's move forward at Michigan State. What was your path through Michigan State? Did you graduate?

Adam Busuttil:

Yeah. Yeah. I graduated with the music education degree. I by, it took me a little longer, you know, part of that way too.

John:

I was on the five-year plan. That's okay.

Adam Busuttil:

My program, although my, sorry, my program was, was is already a five-year program. So because you have student teaching built into that and all that good stuff, but yeah, I went, should I say it out loud and then wonder that some of my students may hear this someday.

John:

You incriminate yourself if you want. Do whatever you can.

Adam Busuttil:

I went, I went over five years. How about that? I went over a lot. Which part of that was, Hey, I wasn't a great student when I was a freshman and my students know about this. I was not a good student my freshman year and there's some things I wish I would've done different. But you know, I was college kid and I was young and didn't, wasn't smart about you know, not, not, not anything horrible just about making sure I go to class. Cause you know, the professors don't always check up on that, like they do in high school. Right? So so those things type of things got in the way, just silly college, normal pitfalls. But so yeah, it took me a little longer. And then on top of that being sick and having to like kind of get back to, you know, you know, my freshman year really was, was where I, where I left off my freshman year kind of is where I was technically supposed to be my junior year. So yeah, it took a long time and you know, and then, and just wanting to be a college student and wanting to enjoy life. When you go through a traumatic experience like this, at least my experience was, I'm not going to let anything go anymore. I'm going to, if somebody says we're going to go to a concert and, but it's in, you know, Chicago and we have to be back for class on Monday, I'm going to go. Or if it's, you know, I get to study abroad or I get to play in this group somewhere, I get to travel and do the basketball band, which took away from some other classes that I needed to get done right at that time I did. And, and I experienced that. So it did take me a little longer, but a lot of it towards the end or after I was sick was just mainly due to just wanting to be, to, to still enjoy those parts of my life. You know?

John:

Yeah. Those are important. What about socially? Was it hard when, once you get back to campus and back to life in air quotes, normal was it tough to get connected back into the social situation at school?

Adam Busuttil:

You know, there was no Facebook, there was none of that stuff, but we didn't have AOL and AOL instant messenger and all those good things. So I did stay in touch with everybody all through the time I had that band and that band did not leave me or, you know, give up on me and my best friends were my best friends. I still am. I was more outgoing afterwards. It opened me up more. The hard part, there was a couple of tough parts with, with being back in schools, one being the student that caused a mass campus to mass vaccinate. It was weird. I can call you. You were that guy. Yeah. Well that's what happens. Well, you were that guy and you know, years I'm talking years later, somebody told my stars with some friends in where I'm currently at. I was already teaching and somebody, that group called me the outbreak monkey, which really made me mad because I thought that was really bogus. That was the only time I've ever gotten mad. But like, you know, those were the things that bothered me. It never really bothered me that I was sick. It bothered me when I would hear that students when they were, if they were in the marching band or were in the marching band jacket, other folks would walk on the other kind of like what we're dealing with with COVID right now, you're in somebody cough, like run to the other wall, you know? It's, it's, it's, you know, they would walk on the other side of the street and that stuff bugged me because I felt like I caused that. And it wasn't anything, you know, you could say anything about me. The one thing really bothered me, but just to, to, to say, to hurt other people, just because it's somebody got sick is terrible. So those were the kinds of things that bugged me the most. But other than that, you know, I was very, I was well liked and accepted and that group was so great to me. Lots of friends for them still to this day. So my social aspect wasn't so bad. I did also end up doing some other things during that time in college, after I was sick, it kind of blew up in the news. For some reason, me being sick really blew up in the news, at least up in our area. And so I was always getting calls to do things for, for advocacy, whether it's news, people that wanted to just hear my story. I, I did, I was closed off for a little bit on that stuff, but then I started to open up and do speak a little more things. I was invited to some classes at state to Michigan State to speak to some of the local news. And then through the marching band directors, somehow they got a hold of him, Nova reached out and said, we're doing this, this documentary called killer disease on campus. And would I be interested? And he said, listen, I've been filtering out a lot of garbage that people want to talk to you, but this one seems legit. And it was so I did a, it was a big part of the killer disease on campus documentary through the Nova series. It's I don't think it's on streaming or anything like that now. I've looked a few times. It's not, but I think you can still maybe get a DVD or I have the VHS. So that's how old it is. So, but it, but it is great. You know, obviously it's some of the the vaccination plan and things like that since there have been more boosters and the B strain is now has a vaccine, obviously that's outdated, but it's out there. So I've done some of that stuff and advocacy, I spoke at a state level for, for vaccination requirements, things like that. So, you know, and I had support those guys were great. I was in a group that was amazing. And, and, you know, that's one thing about the arts and music and band, and I'm sure in the sport, I'm not a sport I'm not athletic other than watching Michigan State stuff. You know, that's, that's a part of being in the group, so I never had a hard time. And that was what was great about or, how I, why I was lucky that I had that group, because I didn't, I think if it would have been, if I would have been a student that wasn't really involved, I did my classes every day was a normal everyday student. Wasn't in the marching band. I think it would've been a lot more difficult for me and I might've become more closed off when I did the opposite.

John:

Were there any other things that were different about you post meningitis than they were pre meningitis other than the fingers and the toes? Were there any other nerve damage, any other bodily functions, any other, you know, things that didn't return somewhat soon after your therapies and things happened?

Adam Busuttil:

No, you know, I, I was lucky again, I just did the finger and toes. I had a lot of skin grafts and scarring. I still have lots of scarring all over my arm and body. But most of that is, you know, I didn't have any, any sort of brain damage or any sort of cognitive issues. You know, I didn't have lingering issues other than the amputations obviously and the scarring. So, no, I do think though that part of the onset, I don't want to say I wasn't in a depressed state, but I think that my mental health could have been better. I think it affected my mental health a lot going from this, you know, I was sick. I was really, it was a focal point for a long time and, you know, I just, I didn't take care of myself like I should have totally during that time. And I like kind of let mental health get in the way and, and gain a lot of weight. So I got myself into a place that wasn't great. And I think it was to do with just depression and not knowing that the depression was there. Because on the outside I was able to put up a good front, you know? So I think that was a lingering. I think it, I think it does have last whether or not we, we, you know, we try and mask it or whatever. And I was like, would I change things? No, but do I think there were some issues that I probably should have sought out and, and thought about and got a little help with? Yeah. I think that, you know, I had right away after I was sick, there was a part of the treatment plan was, was therapy because you're going from something you're used to, to losing things. Um and I think I wish I would have continued that more and you know, that's something I always encourage people is just taking care of their mental health and being aware of their mental health because, you know, mine was meningitis, but you know, anybody, everybody has anything, everything is big in their world. And anything that happens to anybody is a big deal. Whether or not we think it's a big deal, it's always a big deal to that person. So being checking in with your mental health, and that's one thing that I don't think I did a very good job of after I was sick.

John:

Yeah. I don't think I did either actually. And that certainly is something that it comes along for the ride with any kind of change in your life, a dramatic change for sure, but really any kind of change. And I think I certainly struggled with extreme anxiety or at least in my mind it was extreme. And for my experience.

Adam Busuttil:

No, take it, man. It is it's you, you, you're the one that it's you. I would, it was extreme. It is big. It's for you. We all, we all, we all relate to things differently. You know, when I think it's parenting now that has gotten me into this mindset. It's like, you know, my, my friend's kid, he may have this horrible temperature and fever and it's a huge deal, but on, you know, someone else's end, they may be, their kid may be going through surgery. And it's a huge deal on both just as equally important and things that you, that you embrace. So I try and stray away from that myself. I try and think that everybody's got a, bit's a big deal and it should be a big deal to that person. So yeah, man, it is a big deal.

John:

There's just so many things that you're trying to process at really any age, but for us in our, in our late teens, all the changes that you're going through with just physically anyway, any teenager and then being in school and on your own and trying to start your life and do all the things you're supposed to do to get through school and do all that type of stuff and be social. And then you throw this, this curve ball in there that, you know, everybody experiences a curve ball at some point in life, but at this particular time in life, I think you and I are a bit unique because that's when our curve ball was thrown at us. You know, there's a lot of mental things that I wasn't checking on. I wasn't aware of. I certainly felt different and certainly thought different, but I think I put on a, like you said, a good face and tried to just power through those things. And there certainly were some times where I think some mental health checks and some other things would have, would have, would have helped me for sure. And I think too, you know, I asked just kind of socially, cause it, it was difficult for me to re-engage socially. It wasn't extremely difficult, but it was everybody that I was close with obviously was very familiar with my situation. Everybody was very helpful. Everybody was very accommodating and all those types of things, but then it's, sometimes it gets to a point where it's like too much accommodation where you're just like, you know, I'm still, I'm still the guy you remember I'm different, but you know, there's the core is still the same. So let's keep doing these things and then you kind of get in a, in a, in a rhythm. And it, it was tough for me to find a rhythm and to find the right, really the right people. Again, not that I was with the wrong people, but it just, all of a sudden for me, like I didn't have any friends that were blind before, before I had meningitis. So the, I suspect you didn't have a lot of friends that, that were missing fingers and toes. So finding somebody to relate to that type of things on a real friend basis, like, Oh yeah, I've been through that. I know these kinds of things. It wasn't easy. And to, to try to act like I'm normal or be like I'm normal, again, it took a lot of energy and it took a lot of just, I don't know, it took a lot of, it just took a lot to, to do the things that I was used to doing. So I had to change some things, which is fine, and that's just how it works, but not everybody was receptive to that. Because as I'm saying, I'm, I'm still the same old guy, but I do have some differences. And some people are like, well, this is the same old guy. So it's the, it's the same old, it's the same old John. And it just wasn't the case. And so for, for me, the vision loss was, was really the primary thing that people would know about for me, but something that was kind of secondary to that, and almost equally as difficult to get through or as challenging was I have currently. And since the inception of meningitis have had, what's called a neurogenic bladder, which means boil it down to the most easiest way to describe it is that I use a catheter for urination. And I didn't know anybody that used a catheter for urination in college either. And you know, I was, I wasn't a party animal, but I certainly was the guy that went out and hung out with friends and we went places and we did things. And all of a sudden, I am extremely interested in what the bathroom situation is about, where we're going almost maniacal, like, okay, where are we going? I'm trying to plan things. And usually you just kind of go with the flow. You're a 19, 20 year old kid. You just go with the flow, no big deal. But all of a sudden I've got to be very concerned with where I'm going to go to the bathroom, you know, and I didn't have any friends that were using catheters at the time either. So, you know, adjusting to those types of changes. It just takes a lot. It just takes a lot out of you and it creates a lot of stress and things that I wasn't used to. And I think kind of, as you were mentioning about the mental health thing, I think, I think really there were some good opportunities for me to have some mental health checks and just reassess some things. And, and there probably were some things that I should have changed, but I didn't, and I don't know if I looking back really would have again, but it's just, it just, it is what it is and it was what it was. And, and I powered through those things and it's just the way life goes.

Adam Busuttil:

Yeah, I mean, you're looking at 20 to 22 years, 21 years ago. And there weren't many places where you'd hear even men talk about mental health period. So like for us to get mental health checks or say we needed it, wasn't a thing, you know, my parents and family a hundred percent would support it, but it was, no, it was a stigma. You know what I mean? Almost to me, I'm looking back and now it's like, now I'm going to tell people, you know, I want people to know all that, you know, I needed to check in on my mental health because the depression is huge and, and things that, you know, a lot of our control, like we were saying earlier, people go through things, no matter how big or how small it can trigger anything. And it's just so important for everybody to check in on her mental health. And I think, but that was really, really huge for me. I think going through is just looking back on, man, I mentally, mentally was not healthy. I was not taking care of myself. Not that I was doing it, putting myself in any danger, but like, there's definitely things that I look back and go, well, I probably should have thought about a couple of those things before I got to a point, you know, from point A to point B. But you know, that's just part of it, but I think that it's huge, like you said, I think, and I'm glad we're discussing it cause I don't get to discuss that much with folks. So I'm glad that we've talked about it. So folks, you know, maybe there, maybe there's folks out there too that, that maybe need to check in on mental health too sometimes and knowing that others do then it's, you know, it's, it's good.

John:

Yeah. Especially in the COVID world we're living in and, and everybody locked down and just all the craziness that's going on politically and, and medically and just, it's just it is a wild, it's a wild time.

Adam Busuttil:

Well, and as we're sitting here talking, I'm thinking to myself, going man, a lot of the stuff that they had to do and I was sick or things we're doing just every day, you know, we're getting my, you know, my daughter's the, you know, they, they put a mask on before they go in somewhere where before when we leave or, you know, we don't really go in anywhere. But when we go with my daughter has a doctor's appointment, you know, they're getting masked up, they're using hand sanitizer, all those things. They were so meticulous about when I was sick, I was like, wow, it's like crazy. And just talking about, I was like, well, that's kind of what we're doing now.

John:

Now, now it's the norm. Now it's how we live. And I have young children also. And they, this is what they'll know, this is how they will know the world. So that kind of leads me into another topic of the dad experience. You're a podcaster yourself. You're a professional.

Adam Busuttil:

Yeah. Unfortunately though, COVID and some things with family that we're kind of just, we're just so busy right now. It's kinda been on hold, but I have about 150, 130 ish somewhere in there. I don't have to go back and look at the catalog episodes out called from my podcast, called The Dad Experience basically. And it's still there. I am in, shut it down. I haven't said it's done. I just am on hiatus. So we're, we're on all the, the, the major platforms you can get us at Apple podcast, you know, Google, wherever, just look for us to search the data experience. I'm sure you can find us on most platforms, but but I started to because my wife and I struggled to have our first child. We, we are IVF family. He, my, my oldest daughter, my second daughter was, was not an IVF child, but my, my, my oldest was so we dealt with that for years, just even trying to conceive, seeing our friends and family around us, kind of go through all that. And we were just like, man, this is horrible. And that was, it was a big deal to us. And every time somebody would, you know, announce it was, it was, we were so happy for them. It was hard for us to get happy because we were struggling. So we ended up having my oldest daughter and then at the five months scan, I can't remember what scan was, my wife's going to kill me cause I probably should remember that. But we found out that she had congenital heart defect. She had a complete AVSD, so we knew that, you know, we had to monitor and make sure she was fine, but we knew that she was going to be able to be born and not have to have like surgery right away. And they were going to prolong and we thought it was going to be about three months. And then the PN about six, I want to say she was born on October. And then we, we had to take her in, in June. We thought we were going to take her in January, February. So they had to reconstruct basically they had to re build the four chambers and kind of reform those walls when she was six months old. So we dealt with that and that's kinda when I started it. So kind of like we are now, we were quarantined another relation. We recording team basically from when she was born in October to when she had surgery in June in June, because we did not want her to get a cold, but did not want her to get sick. Cause if they did it, might've had to bump the surgery up or they might have to do something or who knows, what effects it would have had. So we were stuck. Can I said, well, what am I going to do? I got this time at home. Not that I wasn't busy cause I was busy with a newborn, but you know, you need to, you need dad time alone time. So I said, well, I'm always been into podcasting or been into media and sharing news media things like that. I played in bands before. So I'm always into like just opening up and being a part of society. And I said, well, what can I do? Let's start a podcast. I thought the platform was pretty neat. And I wanted to do something that took a page out of my education educator background, which was don't reinvent the wheel. If it's there borrow, share from each other, help each other out. So I said, well, there's tons of dads that I know that are out there. I said, why not start with my story? And then bring on a dad or two every week or every week. Right. Then it was like bi-monthly than I went to weekly. Bring them on and talk about being a dad. And it didn't matter. It was all walks of life. I had grandfathers on, I had stepdads on, I had same-sex marriage parents on partners. I've had all of the above, you know, I have my buddy on from Chicago and then I've had Howie Dorough on from the Backstreet boys. So, you know, I, nobody, I want to hear from everybody. I want to learn from everybody cause I can learn from everybody. And it was kind of for me and did the podcast for me. Cause I wanted to all the books I was reading were all calm, comedic books for dads, usually not all, but a lot of them were in the things like mental health aren't discussed and sharing emotions and being able to know that it's okay to cry and things like that. So I wanted to talk to other dads and say, what is it really? And are there some out there that you don't believe on those other sides? Yeah, but that was the why I created The Dad Experience. Cause I wanted to learn and I wanted others to listen in and hopefully it takes something away to and in the process, bring on more people that are listeners just so we can kind of create this community and this show. And I did it when it relates, it has run for about 150 ish episodes. I want to say it's probably a little bit under that, but I'm kind of guessing. I can't remember. And we, you know, and just like I said, I have dads on from all walks of life. Doesn't matter if you're rich and famous or if you are a single dad or a single parent or any of the above, if I've had moms on, I've had educators on, I've had lawyers on I've had musicians on. So it's kind of what I did and I've learned so much from it. And it was, it was a way for me to get away from the, what I like to call the beard air drinking and barbecuing dad's stuff to like kind of what is really being a dad and emotionally. And then what do you, do? You know, what if you're a stay at home dad or what if you're a single dad? So I just wanted to learn and what are the new, what can we relate to and what can we take away? It's not a serialized podcast, so you can pick and choose what you want to listen to if you relate to something more than others. So it's been fun doing it. Right now, like I said, it's on hiatus, but I'm looking forward to getting back to it. And maybe this is what I needed to do this with you, John, because hopefully, maybe we, the next one, maybe we'll start to we'll we'll do one and have you on The Dad Experience.

John:

Hey, I'd love to do that. That's great. Yeah.

Adam Busuttil:

Yeah. That's, that's kind of an an and it's just being a dad has been the greatest thing, you know you know, I thought being sick and surviving was going to be the single most important thing that I remembered. I think both my child's, you know, my kid's births were definitely outweigh those things and being a dad has been pretty awesome and I have a great wife that's so supportive and is a great mom who I learned tons from who really, really is what keeps our family together and the glue together. So I learned a lot from her and have read a lot of the different things that she's read and given to me because she's just awesome.

John:

Yeah. I, I can relate. I, the the mom in our world is what holds the, is the glue that holds this, this unit together too. And I I thought that things that I had done previously might might, you know, like surviving meningitis or graduating high school, you know, might've been my greatest accomplishments, but it turns out it's not. But, but the, the dad thing is a, it's a work in progress and it's something that always needs honing. And I am I am by no means by no means an expert. I always joke with my wife when we were when we were pregnant with our, with our first one, we had a really bad winter storm. And we went to these classes at the hospital about parenting classes, you know, like there was like four or five of them that were available and we went to all of them, but our first child was born about three weeks early. And the baby care basics class was scheduled after she was born. But before we, before she was scheduled to be born, so every time something, my wife looks at me and says like, what do you mean you don't know how to do that? I'm like, Hey, I missed baby care basics. You know, I, I don't know these things. So it really still work though. It does. Well, no it doesn't, but I use it that's exactly. But you know, the mom mom's got these there, they have all this built in knowledge. They just know, they just know. And you know, I really needed the classes now, did baby care basics make it a break it for me? No, but that's what I say, you know?

Adam Busuttil:

Right. No. And I think you're right though. I think there's moms intuitively know this stuff, but I'm, I don't mind, you know, I don't make excuses that I know. I think a lot of it too has, they're just, women are more in tune with, with checking in and making sure things are okay. Whereas I don't think guys are as much. And I think that's something, hopefully we will change in the future.

John:

Got you guys are not good at that.

Adam Busuttil:

Right. Or wrong and not good about talking about our emotions and not being, I think that's huge with, with children, with babies period. I don't care if they're a boy, girl, whatever that, that age, that's what they need. They don't, they, they need to see mommy or daddy has a soft side and excited side a happy side and say, so those are the things they relate to. You know, and, and I think that we don't do that well, but I think moms and women do that lot better than we do. And we can learn a lot from it.

John:

Yeah. God bless moms. That's for sure. That's how I'll leave it today. So yeah. Adam great visiting with you. Yeah.

Adam Busuttil:

It was nice visiting with you. I really appreciate you having me on, I, I love what the stuff you're doing and I love that you are talking to the meningitis survivors and sharing your story because it, it, isn't easy to share our stories all the time. And thank you for giving me the opportunity and thank you for sharing yours. And hopefully, you know, you reach more people that will learn about meningitis or be able to relate and get some sort of comfort in that. So thank you for sharing your story as well.

John:

Hey you're welcome Adam. And look forward to connecting with you again soon.

Adam Busuttil:

Yeah, for sure.


February 16, 2021

Live Accessible

 

The host of the YouTube channel, Live Accessible, Carrie Morales, stops by to discuss the condition that is responsible for her visual impairment, Aniridia. Carrie and John also discuss sunglasses, iPhone versus Android, Windows versus Mac and other technology that empowers people with visual impairment.



February 09, 2021

Tech Talk With Rob

Good friend, fellow technology nerd and Nimbix Co-Founder, Rob Sherrard, stops by to discuss how the Atari 2600 and early Apple products took him on a journey from the Dallas Texas area up to the Pacific North West and back and how the iPhone was the beginning of the end of his Windows experience. 



February 02, 2021

May Be Writing

 Vintage friend, Brandon May, stops by to revel in the good old days, discuss his life-long love of the written word and his journey to publishing the children’s book, Grace and the Big Blue Mat. Brandon also offers advice to John on how to craft the story he wants to tell. 



Episode Transcript: 

Brandon May:
It is damn good for you to have me on your podcast.

John:
When did we start talking like that?

Brandon May:
I do not know. It may go back like all the way back to when we first met in high school. What I think maybe junior year, maybe I think you and I kind of bonded over our love of Jim Carrey movies, but I'm not really, I'm not really sure where the damn good to talk to you thing came from.

John:
It's damn good to talk to you. It's damn good to see you. It's damn it's damn everything.

Brandon May:
Yeah. Well, we didn't have text messages back then, but now it's damn good to text you.

John:
Damn good to be texting that's right.

Brandon May:
Yeah

John:
Man it's crazy the things we do and say, especially as we get older.

Brandon May:
And we still sound awesome.

John:
I think so. And, we go back to probably 10th or 11th grade, I think you're saying.

Brandon May:
Yeah. So it put us what 92, 93?

John:
Yeah, something in that area.

Brandon May:
Yeah, that sounds pretty accurate.

John:

And we did have a love for Jim Carrey movies.

Brandon May:

Yes. You were one of the first people that I met where you dropped a line from Ace Ventura and I was like, do you have the other half of this amulet? I knew you were, I knew you were a kindred spirit.

John:

Yeah. That was pretty crazy those days. You know, I worked at a, you may remember there was these video cassette recorders VCRs.

Brandon May:

Oh yeah. I've heard of those things.

John:

And back in those days I worked at Blockbuster Video. You may remember that place.

Brandon May:

Yeah. Yeah. The blue one, the yellow thing.

John:

And one of the things that we did was, you know, you had to have a card that you can take in and they'd scan, you know, to your membership card or whatever. And so we had this little card maker and that, that was my, the beginning days of my business cards. So we had this little laminating machine and the blockbuster card would had a barcode on it and I would invert it and like it was blue on the outside, you know, and blue and yellow. And I had to invert it cause it'd be white on the inside. And then I just write some silly stuff on it and make business cards. They must have hated me for that. But I had a ton of Ace Ventura lines written on those cards.

Brandon May:

But they probably let you get away with it because you would still rewind the video.

John:

Hey, I was kind.

Brandon May:

Yeah, exactly.

John:

I was kind.

Brandon May:

I had no idea you did that. So this was, this was the precursor to the John Grimes band.

John:

Yes. I guess you're right about that. Yeah. Yeah. And you know, the John Grimes band, we were pretty big back in, in the late nineties. We actually, and nearly really kind of around the.com bubble is really when we,

Brandon May:

That was the peak.

John:

Well we were, so we kind of were we really followed Hasselhoff. Um, we were really big with David Hasselhoff. Like we toured with him.

Brandon May:

Oh, okay. Okay. That's I forgot you were big in Germany,

John:

A lot in Germany in Europe. And it was, it was pretty big.

Brandon May:

Right. Just never quite made it here in the States.

John:

Well, we were bigger there than we were here for sure. And it was a lot of fun though, being in Europe for those years. And I mean, David Hasselhoff is a great guy. Have you ever met him?

Brandon May:

No, I, you never invited me. So

John:

Yeah, he was fun on the road. We had a lot of good times and we had, of course we had shirts.

Brandon May:

Does the car actually talk

John:

He said it does.

Brandon May:

It does. Okay. The car even, yes,

John:

It wasn't with us ever, but he did talk about kit pretty often,

Brandon May:

Man. I bet their relation to the stories they could tell. Right.

John:

Oh my goodness. So after those crazy high school days, we went off to be higher educated, some more, some more or less than others. Obviously I needed as much help as I could. You went, you went to school and I think one of your focuses was writing you've you've pretty much always wanted to be a writer.

Brandon May:

Yeah, absolutely. Yep. Pretty much. I mean, I, I, I would imagine, I'm not saying that I'm like, I'm not comparing myself to a Michael Jordan by any stretch of the imagination. I'm just saying, I bet there are people in any walk of life where at an early age, they just realize that this is what I'm good at and just comes naturally. And for me, it was just the ability to tell a story and put something together in writing and make people want to read it. And I did that all through high school. And then when I went to college just said, all right, well, I dabbled with radio television film because I wanted to write screenplays. But then I switched over to journalism because maybe I wanted to, you know, write the hard hitting, breaking news stories. But eventually when I was at Baylor, I was fortunate enough to find a professor who had a whole curriculum that was just professional writing. He was in the English department.

Brandon May:

And, um, so they basically swapped out, uh, some of the literature courses for writing courses. And so I took that path. So I wrote screenplays. I wrote short stories. I wrote novels. I wrote press releases. I wrote exploded diagrams for people who are trying to assemble a table from Ikea. Like I've basically written everything at that point. And then out into the world, I've written graphic novels to help people or not people, students who reading recovery is the, the phrase that they use. If you're, let's say you're in the fifth grade, but you're on a third grade reading level, they put you in reading recovery. So we started doing graphic novels to help kids get back up to their grade level, reading wise. And I've written test prep. I've written a children's book, which was published here recently. Um, just anything and everything. All right. So real quick, that crazy Popeye's chicken sandwich that like broke the world. I wrote the training video for Popeye's to send to all of their locations, teach their employees how to make that sandwich. So

John:

Do you have some insider information into that?

Brandon May:

Yeah. Uh, I've never eaten it big on principle, uh, largely because

John:

Well it's a conflict of interest obviously.

Brandon May:

It is. Absolutely. It is. Well, and I'm watching my figure, but uh, I know the whole process of writing that training. They had no idea what they wanted to do other than we have to be better than Chick-fil-A and yeah. And quite honestly, let's go ahead and just, you don't have to cut this out, but I'll just say, I'm not allowed to tell you that, but I just did anyway. So

John:

Don't worry about it.

Brandon May:

Well, when it does happen and someone hears this, you just send them to me, I'll take full responsibility, but yeah, from a writing standpoint, it's just what I do. I take people come to me and say, I want this to sound good. And they'll give me a list of bullet points. And then I take it and I put a narrative together and make it somewhat engaging. But while also still staying true to, uh, like if you came to me and said, Hey, I want you to help me tell my story. Then I would ask you a few questions. Like what, you know, what's your, what's your audience and what, what kind of tone do you want to take casual, professional, uh, in your case, would you want it to be very, uh, clinical because it's medically based, right? Um, but whatever your narrative is then, all right, let's compile all this stuff and let's put a story together because eventually it's still a story, um, that you want people to read.

Brandon May:

You want to hear John Grimes story from beginning to end the, uh, you know, where you were before the meningitis, what happened during that, the recovery period, and then where you are here now hosting this awesome podcast. And that's, that's your story arc, you know? Yeah, no, I was just saying that's, that's the beauty of the whole thing is it's just, I like helping people tell their stories. I have my own stories to tell, but I also like helping other people who are a little, maybe a little timid, they don't think that they can, everybody can, it's just a matter of finding the right words and the tone and the, the structure to it. And for me, that comes naturally. But I like helping people, especially like yourself who have a story to tell that other people need to hear. Then all right, here's how you can do it.

John:

Yeah. Well, you're stoking some members there for me because I have, I would, would be what you consider in the writing recovery area. Like, I don't write good for my age. So I'm like on probably a third or fourth grade writing level.

Brandon May:

That sounds about right, because you should have said, I don't write well for my age.

John:

Exactly! See?

Brandon May:

See? See? We're already on it. There we go. And I'm going to push up my glasses and look smart.

John:

Take a sip of your coffee while you're at it too, but something else why I want to get back to this topic too. But something that I read about you that I thought was interesting was I think it might've been on one of your bio somewhere that you knew, like maybe in middle school or high school that you wanted to write, but you, your example that you gave was that if somebody said, write the ingredient or nutrition label on the back of this box of on a Popeye's chicken sandwich, let's just say, um, it would be the best damn nutrition label somebody had ever read. Is that right?

Brandon May:

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, yeah. We'll, we'll go with that. That's paraphrasing. And, uh, but yes, you're absolutely right. That, that was always my goal. I want anything that I write, if somebody reads it to remember it and hopefully remember it because it stood out whether it was because it was funny or it was insightful or maybe it was cause it was horrible. I don't know. That's obviously not my goal, but I'm sure I'm remembered for that as well. But, uh, yeah, a lot of the stuff I write, especially, uh, when I write articles for Lifestyle Frisco, for some of our clients, like, you know, I want to do right by the client. I want them to be happy with the work, but I want somebody who maybe, uh, never would have considered going into a Texas legends game to read this article and think, Oh, that was entertaining. I would like to check that out. Um, so yeah, if I were to write the nutritional content on the back of a cereal box, then I would want somebody to call me up and be like, you need to make a movie out of that. That was spectacular!

John:

Cannot believe how much sodium was in that too, by the way.

Brandon May:

Well, the sodium is the unsung hero of the story. So,

John:

All right. So children's book, how did you get engaged in children's book?

Brandon May:

So, like I said, I worked for a company for a long time on a creative team doing the graphic novels. And then we did a lot of videos, uh, educational videos. And then I moved on from that. And then a new company here locally in Frisco popped up online education called 3g Strong. And they work in the space of, uh, 3 g's or grit, grace and growth mindset is one of the new educational entities. And so I've been helping them put stories together from kindergarten to fifth grade. Well, they said, you know what, let's just put a children's book together. Would you write a children's books? And absolutely. I read a children's book. And so one of the characters that I've been helping them develop is named Grace, and she's a gymnast and she's like a super awesome chick and being the father of two daughters who both went through gymnastics, I'm like, okay, well I'll just Grace and the Big Blue Mat.

Brandon May:

Just, it's all about her at a competition staring into that giant blue mat for her floor exercise. And what's going through her head and all the anxiety and the trepidation, but then how she powers through that to still, you know, stick the landing if you will. And so I made a point to write it at a second grade level. So all of the, uh, a lot of the words stay within a certain reading level, but at the same time, what I love about writing children's books when it comes to that sort of stuff, uh, is when you're doing it in like say a comic book, medium where you have the visual aspect, you can get away with throwing in a bigger word. So, um, when we were doing the graphic novels, like one of my partner in crime back in the day, Abraham, uh, he always used to say, when I was a kid, I didn't know what the word behemoth means, but or meant.

Brandon May:

But if you showed me a picture of the Incredible Hulk and then next to it, you had the word behemoth, well, then I'm going to know what the word behemoth means. Yeah. So the visual and the literal can tie together that way. And then you can start helping kids who maybe are struggling with their reading, or may not even be interested in reading, start to maybe get a little bit more of an interest in it. So when I get everybody that wants to write, wants to be published, so it was an opportunity to do it, and I'm glad it worked out. And I'm glad that the company's doing well as a result of it.

John:

Grace and the Big Blue Mat, right?

Brandon May:

Grace and the Big Blue Matt, you can find it on Amazon or you can probably find it on the website, 3g strong.com. Um, really good company. Two ladies, local school teachers. Um, one's a principal and one is I think in charge of the gifted and talented program at another school and they put this company together and this is, they're still teaching, but this is, this is their second career. And I expect really big things out of them. It's been really fun to work with them.

John:

So walk me through the process of, from the, okay, let's write a book about Grace and then to the point where it's point and click on Amazon. I'm sure that took a while.

Brandon May:

Uh, yes. It definitely took a while because in this case, like in this case, they just said, would you like to write a book? And so I immediately start spitballing ideas and we landed on one, which is this one, Grace and the Big Blue Mat. And so from there I started just personally writing down ideas, but so like a fun thing. And I don't know if it's just writers in general or if it's creatives as a whole, there are a lot of times when people see people like me and they think you're not doing anything.

John:

I thought I've I've thought that about you at lots of times, actually.

Brandon May:

Yeah. Yeah. And many do. And they're probably accurate, but there's so much going on up in your brain space. So like, like you're sitting there and you're staring at the TV, but you're not really watching the TV. You're not paying attention to TV. You're running through scenarios in your head. Okay. Well, all right. If this happens in the story, then this has to happen. How was the, where is the climax of the story, like processing processing process. And then finally it's like, as far as the carpenter used to say, measure twice, cut once it's kind of like that. I, when I see a blank screen, I'm not intimidated by it as much as I don't want to even start putting words on here until I know what direction I'm going in and I'm need to figure out what direction I want to go. In this case though, because I knew that it was going to be essentially a comic book style, where there was going to be a lot of like animated drawing, pictures and illustrations and everything go into it.

Brandon May:

I didn't just have to write the story and the dialogue, but I also had to write, uh, the instruction for who was going to draw it. And then I had to write the instruction for how the panels were going to show up on the page. So I had, I had to write, okay, Grace says this, her coach says this, but then in that section, this is panel one A that goes up in the top left corner. And then this is for panel one B that goes in the top right corner. And then we move down. And then also when we needed a closeup shot for the blue mat, but then, you know, and so you start, you're almost, at that point, you're writing for multiple audiences. I'm writing for the person reading, but I'm also writing for the person who's drawing it. And I'm also writing for the person who's laying it out.

Brandon May:

And then I'm on top of that. I'm writing for the people who are paying me to do it because they got to like it. And so, yeah, it's an interesting process. It's tedious, but it's fun. It's almost like it's almost like being an escape room and they say go, and some people like immediately try to find the key and other people's laid back and to study the room for me when it comes to the storytelling aspect, I'm the one that lays back and studies the room, all right, what are we doing? What do we got going on here? You know,

John:

Did you come up with the idea with the gymnastics thing because of your experience with that, with, with your girls, or was that kind of already in motion?

Brandon May:

They already created the character of Grace and they already decided that she would be a gymnast. So that was one of the main reasons why, because I could have there's other, there are two other characters that I could have written about, but I obviously grabbed her, uh, gravitated towards Grace because of that. And I was like, I can definitely write something for this because I, like you said, I've got daughters that did gymnastics now they've moved on to cheer, but they did gymnastics. I've been to many gymnastics competitions. Um, in fact, I actually worked one of my daughter's routines into the story and the ladies wrote me back. She's like, okay, is this accurate? I was like, trust me, it's accurate because I've watched it two dozen times. I know this entire routine. So no, it was fun. I'm glad I got the opportunity to do it.

John:

Are the mats always blue? I mean, I'm trying to think of a gymnastics and like the Olympics, it seems like in the Olympics, that's the floor routines always on a blue mat.

Brandon May:

Yeah. Yep. Almost always blue, blue.

John:

Why's it blue?

Brandon May:

I have no idea.

John:

Don't they worry about like birds diving into water?

Brandon May:

Like Boise State? No, I don't know many outdoor gymnastics venues, but no, I, I have no idea. That's a really good question. We should Google that.

John:

Yeah. Why is gymnastics floor always blue? Interesting. So

Brandon May:

You would, you would think it'd be white because then you wouldn't see the chalk all over the place, right? Yeah.

John:

Hmm. All right. I'm writing that down. That's for another call, we will have an answer for that next time we get together.

Brandon May:

You don't have a fact checker or anything like that. No,

John:

No. We got to, we're working on a pretty slim budget here.

John:

Pretty slim budget. Well, yeah. And we kind of started talking about you referencing me wanting to tell the story too, and that, that is something I want to do. And I've been talking about it for quite some time and I've engaged some people in it. And I think I have a unique story. I know I have a unique story, definitely have a unique story. And I think it's, it's, it's unique. And I think it's compelling, not so much for the after just it's kind of, life is crazy as you know, and lots of people's lives are different today than they were before, but I think it's interesting finding kind of the reason or the, the differences and things that happened in between point A point B point C and, and wherever people go. So I've, I've gotten some things written down, not too much. I told you I'm on a second grade reading level. So our writing level. And so it's, it's kind of hard to, for me to do that. And that's one of the things that I discovered earlier was I'm just not a good writer. I don't write well.

Brandon May:

Very good. See, you're already picking, you're already learning, but all right. So tell me this though. So rather than worrying about what you consider your writing capabilities, think about the story as a whole, uh, think about parallels. All right. So right now your, your struggle, obviously, because it's the name of the podcast, but then so if we're going to go the blind route now, how could you symbolically say that you might have been blind when you and I first met in high school? What you might've been blind to? Um, things that, you know, now that you didn't know, then things, you know, all that kind of stuff. And then that way that's, that's what you would call a story arc, where you could talk about, because your story doesn't start at Texas tech. When you got sick, your story started, you know, the day you were born. So how could you put all that together? So putting the words together, I can help you. Anyone could help you with that, but your stories, your stories. So how would you pull everything together to where you're, you're basically telling your journey? You know what I mean?

John:

Yeah. I think I need somebody to extract that because I, as, as I mentioned, I've, I've tried to kind of write some things down. I'm, I'm pretty good at talking, which is why we're doing the podcast thing here. I have a face for radio and not for video. So that's another reason why we're doing the podcast thing. But I think, um, a couple I've, I've kind of struggled with that and it's, it's frustrating to me because I want to get it out and I want to, I want to do it. There's a couple reasons why, um, notably would be, um, not, not to sound like I'm the most important person ever or anything, but in my family, as my family continues beyond me, there's they need to know wherever they are, why this guy in the tree, this nut was the way he was. And, and some things that happened, because I think there are some unique things that happen to me that, that don't happen to other people, just like other people would have things that don't happen to other people as well.

John:

And so I wanted to record those types of things for at least in my personal family's lineage, just so they kind of know this is where our family took a straight left and just went bonkers. And this is the reason why it's because of this guy. And then I think that there are some things that have happened in my life that I can help people with that. Something similar, maybe not exactly, but something close to that has happened to somebody. And we could, we could talk through that or work through that and give some examples of, of things to do and, and, and things that I did or didn't do that would, that would make those types of situations better. So I want that I to do that for that as well. And I don't know, it could be a pamphlet, you know, at a psychologists office or something, but it could also be kind of also like

Brandon May:

Light bathroom reading.

John:

Uh, it could, it could be a, um, article in a magazine, or it could be, could be a short story. It could be John and the Big Blue Mat or something, you know, I don't know, but I, I have an idea. It's got some depth and length to it, to where it's, it's pretty long and it's pretty involved. And there's some really unique details that happened. And some miraculous things that occurred that I don't know, I just want to talk about. And there's some, some kind of some, there's also some secretive kind of stuff that I really haven't shared with a lot of people that I think it's just time for me to the best out with. Cause I'm tired of holding onto some, some things that just have held on to for a long time. So, and then of course it would be feature movie, I would imagine.

Brandon May:

So who would play you? Who would play you in the movie? Oh man. I'm thinking Kevin Hart.

John:

Well, one of my first thoughts was Will Smith. Cause I'm a little taller than Kevin Hart.

Brandon May:

Oh yeah. Dang it. I totally missed that one.

John:

I mean, I am tall for my age, but it would, I've really narrowed it down to, uh, Will Smith and MPG. And I'm not sure which I guess it depends on who's available.

Brandon May:

Yeah the budget, of course, yeah.

John:

Mark Paul Gosselaar, Zach, from Saved by the Bell, you know.

Brandon May:

He's, he's pretty busy right now 'm pretty sure. Your, your, your story, because I know that you were, so you've mentioned many times to me that you've reached out to people because you're trying to gather information, but the main reason you're reaching out to people for this information is because there's a bulk of time that you do not recall at all. Right?

John:

So I was, I was out to lunch for about seven days. So I have talked to a couple people in the publishing world and we really haven't been able to get very far. I think I've talked to three seriously, and one of them, I just really didn't, wasn't impressed with. I just didn't like the feel of how things were working. Another one wasn't interested in me. And then a third one was, uh, very interested, but I kind of got the feeling it was a really a transactional kind of thing. And it was like, okay, I need this, I need X amount of money and we will start doing this and we'll start doing that. And then we're done. And here's the timeframe for that. And I think that's good, except I didn't really have a connection with this person. And it just felt real transactional.

John:

I just didn't just didn't feel it. And I think that probably offer still stands, but it's been well over a year since we discussed that, but I spoke with another person kind of in the same area, but not, not in writing that said, well, we're all getting older, as we know, and you've got all this stuff that you really haven't been able to capture in writing, but you've got it in your head. And you've got lots of people that were around you kind of at the centerpiece of the story, which is, I think the center piece of the story is the meningitis stuff from back in the day. And, um, as you mentioned, I was in a coma for about seven days. So there's a lot of things that happened that I don't know. And he said, he told me, um, you need to talk to as many people as you can that were there during those times and record conversations.

John:

So you can capture all that data and then go from there, transcribe it or things and get things into writing and go from there. So I did that and, um, I was, it was, it was some great conversations with some, some people from, you know, back in the day, reconnected with some people and, and talk to some people that I talk to regularly, but we don't really ever talk in a lot of detail about those types of things. And so it was a really cathartic experience and it was fun. So now I have all this recorded data and some written data, but very little that I'm, I'm ready to do something.

Brandon May:

Yeah. Yeah. Because I think with your story, if like you said, you know, I'm that wacky acorn on the tree that, okay, I want everybody to know, this is why this guys was the way that he was that caused all this to happen. But at the same time, the contrast of that is here, you are now trying to be that wacky acorn that's helping all of these people who are in the same situation as you are that are looking for answers or looking for help or looking for a community. And so you're building more than just answers for your family. You're building towards something else. And so I don't think you should, uh, dismiss that if, if you will. Um, but also

John:

I will.

Brandon May:

You will dismiss it?

John:

No, I will not dismiss it. You said if you will, I will.

Brandon May:

If you will, okay. Um, but yeah, as far as, uh, I think it's good that you, whoever gave you that advice to start getting people's, um, recorded memories. That that's good. I remember being with a couple of our mutual friends. So I don't know if you want to mention their names or not that we're there with you. Um, when that happened and you reached out to them and they were like, I don't remember anything about that day. It was such a blur and I wouldn't even know what to tell him. And when they said this, it made me think there's, there's, there's a medical theory theory, but I want to emphasize theory that, uh, your worst memories are your most accurate memories because you suppress them. You don't want to talk about those. It's why your good memories tend to get embellished. It's why the fish you caught gets larger and larger every time you say the story about how you caught this one fish. Yeah. The four point buck, you shot turns into a 14 buck, you know? Um, I'm sure everybody, I remember exactly where I was when I found out. I was at home and my dad came in because, uh, your roommate at the time, again, I'm trying Dodge names now.

John:

I mean, I think, I think it'll help the podcast. If we mentioned Ryan Walker's name. I mean, the search engines will light up. SEO will be like, Hey, Ryan Walker, the soccer star.

Brandon May:

Yeah. Oh, you know him?

John:

I mean, he could, I don't know. Just, I'm sorry to get off on tangent. He could have played professional baseball.

Brandon May:

Oh, shortstop. Yeah, absolutely. No. I've heard that story tons of times, again, that goes back to the theory stories that are really good tend to get embellished over time. But no, I remember being, uh, being at home and my dad coming in, waking me up and it was Ms. Walker had just called and she said, Ryan's in the hospital and he's really, he could possibly be very sick and, uh, John very well may die. And I didn't know how to process that because one it's through so many different proxies, right? Like it's my dad talking to Mrs. Walker talking through. And of course she's not there with you guys. So she's probably hysterical and you know, not knowing what was going on. And all I remember thinking at that moment was just, no. Not no, like this can't be true or no, I'm not going to accept it. It was just no, like I won't allow it like, no, no. And then obviously later when you start getting more information on what was happening, because think about it, this was before text messages and cell phones and

John:

Yeah, I don't think we've talked, how do we communicate back then?

Brandon May:

The carrier pigeon. Um, and I was all out of birds that day. And so now I know, I know stupid birds, but uh, yeah, I just, I remember thinking I'm, I'm, I'm helpless, I've got two friends that could be in very much danger and there's, um, your guys are in Lubbock and I'm in Plano and there's nothing I can do, but that was the extent of my recollection. And I do remember that vividly, but that's no use to you because I didn't know the before. I didn't know the after. And it wasn't until a long time later that you and I even saw each other again, because we were in and out of the hospital and everything. So, I mean, I think what, what you will kind of reconcile is, okay, what led up to this? And then what came at, you've got this, like you said, you got a week long period of time that you have,

John:

And a lot of critical things happened during that week too, so.

Brandon May:

That you're not aware of. Yeah. Yeah. Does that bother you or does it just,

John:

No, it doesn't, it doesn't bother me. I guess it bothers me in the sense that I'd like to know, but no, I don't lose any sleep over it, but yeah, I think that, you know, the, the time during that time, there was a pretty immense struggle for my body to do whatever it was doing to get the, to help or to get the meningitis and get it out of my system or help my, you know, get me back to normal. But, and it, it's a, it's a huge fight that my body was doing, but I have no memory of it. And so I, I usually downplay it because I was like, well, I mean, I was asleep the whole time, so how much work can you do while you're asleep? You know? I mean, it's not like I'm a bowler and I'm over 40 pounds over weight and I'm throwing an 18 pound ball down.

John:

I mean, that's an athlete, that's somebody that does something. Right. So it's nice. It would be nice to remember that, of course, but no, I'm not upset about it or I don't, I'm okay with not knowing, but it, I'm actually more interested in what other peoples were thinking. And which is why, when you said, like, when I spoke with my roommates or the people that were really close to me, I'm like Ryan, and it wasn't so much what, what they remember about me. It was more about what they remember about them or what was going on or what people were talking about. Yeah. Like what you were thinking or what you were told, or, you know, there was a thought that maybe somebody else was going to get it that's highly contagious, but it, none of that, none of that turned out to be the case, but there was a lot of concern for people.

John:

And there was a, a term we use now contact tracing is basically what happened back then, as they were trying to find everybody that had come in contact with me because there was, uh, some medicine they could give them to prevent, uh, meningitis. So they went through that process. So I'm kind of interested in what they remember about those things. And, you know, like you said, the memory, once you stoke the memory and for things that you want to not really talk or think about anymore, once we started talking, they remembered things. At least they remembered things that I was interested in. They may not think they were interested in. Interesting. But, um, I, we had a great talk and I really enjoyed the conversations I had with, I don't know, maybe a dozen or 15 people. And I mean, I'd probably have close to 15 to 20 hours worth of audio of stuff that I'm very glad I did because now I've kind of captured that. And as long as I keep backing up that hard drive, you know, I should keep that stuff. But the hard drive and the cloud will fail, um, are less likely to fail than my, than my ma my, my mind and everybody else's memory of those things too. So,

Brandon May:

So then listening back to all those stories and piecing it all together as a puzzle, if we're talking about writing a story, putting a story together, did it, if we're putting it into a metaphor of a puzzle, like, did it drop any pieces into place that you didn't currently have? Or like, where did the story go from there?

John:

It definitely brought back. Uh, it definitely dropped some puzzles pieces together. Yeah. I can't give you any finite examples of that at the moment, but it, it filled in a lot of detail that I didn't know, or just kind of what was going on. I mean, really it's, it's pretty crazy the stuff that was happening and which is why I think it's a really a compelling story, but as much as it's about that time period, it's, it's also about, you know, maybe slightly before maybe, I mean, you said birth, but just to kind of get a feel for the guy or for me up to that point, but really it's, it's mostly a lot of it there've been so many things that have happened afterward. Not even like immediately afterward, like years later, that just things that, that wouldn't really have registered to me that were going to happen.

John:

Things that are all good. I mean, there's been some bad things of course too, but are some, some, there's been some, a lot of challenges, but there's been a lot of great things and a lot of blessings and things that have happened to me that I think is part of the story. That is what makes it good, because it, there is hope for people that do go through tough times. And that's, I think the crux of really what the story is about, and it's just kind of these things, these are the things that happened. And then this is how we reacted to those things.

Brandon May:

Right. I mean, so you, we obviously know what you lost, but what, what did you gain?

John:

Well, there's a lot of things that I gained and that's another thing,

Brandon May:

Because it's a different kind of site. What, I mean, you know what I mean? Like you, you gained a different perspective as a result of surviving that, and that I think is part of your story.

John:

Yeah. It is. And you know, there's metaphorical things, there's physical things. There's all kinds of. Yeah, exactly. So I guess I just, I don't know. You want to, um, sounds like we should get together about this time tomorrow and, uh, we'll just start handing things out, right? I mean, John and the Big Blue Mat, John and Brandon.

Brandon May:

Oh no, no, no. I'll just, I'll be the coach over on the side. It'll be, John and the Big Blue Mat, or maybe the big white mat, because we don't want the chalk staining everything. And you know, I think we figured the whole thing out, although I'd love to see your floor routine.

John:

Well, I've been working on it, but it's got a lot of work to do.

Brandon May:

Speaking of which, I mean, looking to you get, you're a dad now. I'm a dad now. I mean, did anybody back when you and I first met each other, quoting Jim Carrey lines think that we were fit to raise children.

John:

Does anybody think we're fit to raise children now, at least speaking for myself?

Brandon May:

No, I concur. Um, no one probably looks at me and says, yeah, I endorse that.

John:

That is dad material right there. That's got dad written all over it. Yeah. It's really wild, man. How, how things happen like that. I don't think I had really ever in those days, uh, one of the, I have a C we did a question and answer series for which you, you gave some questions.

Brandon May:

Yeah, no, I know you ignored one of them, but we won't know.

John:

I did forget a reason. I think I may have answered it, but to you personally on the side, but not for the world to know, but, and one of the questions that I got from somebody else was what would, what advice would you give 17 year old you, and this, this puts a square in the, you know, that timeframe for what we're talking about here, junior high school,

Brandon May:

Junior high school.

John:

And, um, you know, I don't, when I was 17, I had probably only planned my life about, you know, lunch tomorrow in the future, You know?

John:

And so I, I don't know. I, I thought it was a good question. You may know his name was Jeff Katzman is the one that gave, that, gave that question. He went to, he went to high school with us. He's a good guy too. And I don't know, I'll pose the question to you. What advice would, would you give 17 year old Brandon May?

Brandon May:

A 17 year old Brandon May would be just drop out of school. It doesn't matter. No, I'm just joking. Don't do that kids. Um, not that, that is a tough question because there are parts of me that would tell 17 year old me don't change a thing. You're doing just fine. You're going to be just fine. And then there are other parts of me that are like, okay, yeah, you should have met your wife earlier. You would have had two more years or that kind of stuff. Uh, I would say it's more about priorities. I mean, just, but at the same time, you also don't want a 17 year old worrying about a 401k. I mean, so that, that, that's a tough one, I would say, because you don't want to come back. And I struggle with this with my kids and not being like a back in my day kind of person, because they're living their own experience. And I want them to live that experience obviously within reason, but I'm not saying I wouldn't change anything. There's probably a lot of stuff I would change, but tell him, 17 year old me, anything, 17 year old me would tell 43 year old me to shut the blank up.

John:

No, what I said, I, I, when I answered the question on, on one of the previous episodes, I compared myself to, um, you know, you're a fan of movies, right? Yeah. So you know, the back of the future series, and you may recall when, um, old Biff comes back with the sports Almanac with new Biff and you know, old, uh, new or young Biff doesn't want anything to do with old Biff so I kind of compared myself to old Biff, or I would, I would be like old Biff now and young John Grimes will be like, just get, you know, make like a tree and get outta here. And he beats him over the head with it. He's like, it's make like a tree and leave. That would be kind of my interaction with my younger self.

Brandon May:

Yeah. Yeah. I'm trying to hand you like basically a book of wealth and you're not going to listen to me, right? Yeah. Yeah. That's 17 year old me. Wouldn't listen to me now.

John:

No, No way. Cause you're old and that's not cool.

Brandon May:

Put 17, if I told 17 year old me, Hey, you're going to be a writer. 17 year old me would be like, Oh, that's lame.

John:

I don't think so, man. Let's let's do something else.

Brandon May:

Yeah. I've decided that I'm going to go into finance, which I would have just stunk at.

John:

Yeah. Yeah. Me too. We briefly talked on, uh, we touched on movies there. So a few other things I want to talk to you about, but we're probably running out of time for this, this time, this discussion, you were on another podcast with Kelly Walker's podcast Hustle and Pro, which is a Lifestyle Frisco thing few weeks or months ago. And one of the things you guys talked about were sports movies. And that kind of got me thinking. And I, I talked to Kelly on a few episodes ago. One of the craziest things that I heard was that you and I agreed on our favorite sports movie, which is Bull Durham. And I've actually heard from some other people that thought that's a, that's a great movie. And I think it is the best sports movie.

Brandon May:

It is the best sports movie because it is a movie that involves sports. It is not a sports movie.

John:

Yeah it's about what happens around baseball as opposed to baseball.

Brandon May:

Precisely, precisely they didn't worry about making sure that nuclear solutions pitch release was accurate or, you know, the, the swing was on point. It was about what happens between balls and strikes and road trips and relationships. It was a movie that just happened to have baseball in it. And that's what makes it the best because it was, it was, uh, it was about the downtime, like the best scene. One of the best scenes in the entire movie was when they go out to the mound and they start talking about what makes a good wedding, you know, like you can think about it, you're sitting in the stands at a baseball game and you see them all huddle up and you're like, Oh man, are they talking about? Yeah, no. And they're just talking about like, so, uh,

John:

Weddings next week are y'all going? Yeah. What are you going to get a lot candlesticks, make a great

Brandon May:

Yeah. Or, you know, want to go to olive garden later. Yeah. Okay. We'll do that. Yeah. That's the main reason I loved it. But, um, but yeah. The other thing that came out in that podcast, which I will openly admit, cause I feel ashamed is that I've never seen Caddyshack from start to finish. I know that's one of your favorites.

John:

Well, after we started, she asked me the question and I really wasn't prepared for it. Um, when she asked me my favorite sports movie, I feel confident with my answer Bull Durham, but it got me thinking about other sports movies. And you know, I think one of the things that's great about Bull Durham, everything you just mentioned, but there's also a comic, you know, theme to it. It's not a comedy, but there's funny stuff in it. And we talked about our, you know, we kind of started talking about movies with Jim Carrey in ACE Ventura back in those days, I like to laugh. I want, that's how I'm entertained as being as laughing. So, um, Caddyshack fits the bill for that too. And there, I can't tell you how many times, I don't know if it's daily, but it's definitely a few times a week where I'll be quoting something from Caddyshack, you know, regularly. And it's a little, I think I would be embarrassed to admit that I hadn't seen it either. How do we fix that?

Brandon May:

Well, I guess the main way I fix it is watch it, but um, yeah, at this point I've had way too much time. I've had way too much time. It's almost like at this point, I'm just, I'm a pariah. Um, this is, this is my Scarlet letter. Right. I will never go down with that, I guess. So I guess so. I mean, that's just, I've seen that I've seen the iconic scenes. I've just never sat down and watched it from beginning to end.

John:

Do you know them? I mean, can you repeat them? I'm not going to ask you to, but I mean like, you know, the lines, if somebody said one, you'd likely pick it up.

Brandon May:

For the most part. Yeah.

John:

But what's the funniest thing that you can think of from the movie?

Brandon May:

Honestly, the only thing that I really recall is the Bill Murray character. And the thing is, I don't even know what his name is. So shame on me, but him, him and the gopher and just the slurred accent. And then now looking at Bill Murray's character and his career. Yeah. It was like, okay, I see what he was doing there. Like that, that, that time, when he was making that movie, he was, he looked goofy. But then now you see what he's done over the course of his career. And it's like, this guys is savant because you saw Groundhog's day and then lost in translation. And then even now what he's doing with Wes Anderson films, because he was brilliant in all of those movies. So yeah. I, I need to watch it. I will watch it. I owe it to you to watch it before I even write your story. I will watch the movie.

John:

We got a lot of work to do. So we're going to write a story or maybe we need to get a couple of people together or a minimum of you and me, just in somebody's media room, close the doors, pop it in. And I mean, it's probably like 90 minutes.

Brandon May:

Can you rephrase that? Can you rephrase that? Yeah. I don't want to go into the media room, close the doors and pop it in, but could we.

John:

Let me be more specific? Yeah, let's go into media room, close the doors and, um, download the, uh, the stream. And, um, for, for going back to where you were, knock one out and I think we'd all have a good time with that.

Brandon May:

Sounds like a party.

John:

Uh, but you would probably be the only one in the room that hadn't seen it. So that might be a, a bad, bad place for you to be in. But

Brandon May:

Well then, you know, you guys better shut up, pay attention. Absolutely. Oh, you know what? We could do it like, uh, what do they call that theater where everybody recites the lines in the audience or something like that. I'd just sit there and watch while you guys just basically throw popcorn at the screen and everything.

John:
Okay. And you mentioned savant too. You're, you're a savant in the music genre from, let's say, I don't know, mid eighties to mid nineties with, uh, with hip hop. I mean, clearly listening to you now, obviously you're a hip hop savant, so I would like to get, I would like to get together with you again and talk about, talk about the, the glory days of, of music, at least in our time period.

Brandon May:
Yes. I would definitely say the glory days in the sense that what, and this is me talking to 17 year old me sounded like an old man. There's what they're doing today in hip hop is just terrible compared to late eighties, early nineties, hip hop, like that set the gold standard. And what my favorite part was like about six years ago, tribe called quest came out and put out a new album right before five died. And it was almost like them telling everybody, okay, you guys had your fun. Here's how the OGs do it. This is hip hop and they put out a spectacular album. And so I love listening to all of that stuff that paved the way for what we have now and what they've done, not just for music, but for a social movement. And yeah, we can talk about it now or we can talk about it later, but we definitely need to talk about it.

John:
Yeah. We're going to package that for our next discussion. And we're going to, we're going to talk about those days and hip hop. And hopefully we can expand a little beyond that because there was more than hip hop going on in those days. Um, for me to there, that was kind of a wild time of music exploration for me at that age.

Brandon May:
Yeah, grunge was coming through at the same time. And like everything was going different directions. It was beautiful time for music.

John:
Yeah. All right. Well, let's talk about that next time. Can we do it again?

Brandon May:
Absolutely. If you will have me.