My name is Jay. I am from Alabama and I am 18 years old. Before I say anything I first would like thank you guys at the TNQ podcast for your service and everything you all have done for this great country. But I love and appreciate the fact that you guys are still serving people by discussing and breaking down what it takes to have that “Never Quit” mindset. Secondly, I would like to thank Marcus for signing my Lone Survivor book. I have a friend who is friends with Marcus’s roommate from Sam Houston State, and through those connections that is how I managed to open up the best Christmas gift I ever received. Which was the signed book. With all that being said I would like to share with you my personal Never Quit story.
In September of 2015 I was sitting in healthcare class at my local tech school. My teacher was demonstrating how to use a stethoscope. Out of the 30 students in the class, and through a miracle of the Lord above, my teacher picked me to demonstrate how to listen to a patient’s heart rate. My teacher had a weird look on her face like something was wrong. My teacher began to inform me that she heard some irregular rhythms and skipped beats. So she suggested I go see a cardiologist. With both of my grandmothers having a history of aortic aneurysms, and massive heart attacks, I guessed it would probably be a good idea that I see a cardiologist. My cardiologist said my heart was good for now but did notice on my chest X-ray that there was something abnormal. He said my chest was caved in and said that I have “Pectus Excavatum” which is a connective tissue disorder where the sternum grows inwards and sinks in on the chest wall. My chest started caving in about 7th grade because I have always been abnormally taller than anyone my age. As of now I am 6’5 250 pounds of 2% milk and fried chicken. I have always been aware of my chest looking like superman punched me right between the tits. Heck me and my buddy’s would see how many skittles my chest would hold. I even had one of my football teammates to drink water out of it. Anyways, little did I know that it was causing some serious problems. My cardio doctor referred me to a surgeon that specializes in the Pectus condition. Through many lung tests, EKG’s, and other tests. My “superman hole” was about 4 inches deep and was restricting my lung capacity and heart function. My lungs had only been acting at 60% my whole life and my heart compressed into a little corner in my chest cavity. So now I had the answer of why I was dog tired and sweating like crazy just after the first 20 minutes of football practice. I could not play a whole quarter of basketball because I could not get a deep breath. But even though I could not breathe normal. I would still tell myself to quit being a wimp and keep pressing forward.
I was sitting in a room with my mom waiting to meet the surgeon to discuss the process of getting this sink hole fixed. So Dr. Smith walked in. She put a laptop on the table of her doing the surgery on some kid and she said it hurts like hell. Then she left room. Here I am watching this kid flop all over the operating table as she shoves this curved metal bar under his chest and then rotating the bar to pop his chest back out. I said yep sign me up. Whatever it takes to breathe normal. I found myself getting a metal bar shoved in my chest in May of 2016. A week in ICU. 6 different pain medications. Six months of recovery. 2 months bed ridden. 2 months of my parents having to raise my big ass up in and out of bed. My parents showered me and done everything except feed me. Yep they even wiped my ass. My doctor had me sleep flat on my back with no pillow. And sit in a straight back chair with a breast feeding pillow to rest my shoulders. But when I woke up from surgery I took the first deep breath of my life, kind of similar to episode with Justin Legg. Every day I had to make myself not quit and keep my goal in mind to make it back for basketball season. Two months later I was progressing and getting ready to start my first day of physical therapy. But I had a knot come up on my side where the metal bar in my chest had slipped out of place and I found myself in the pre-op room the next day to start the whole process over again. Everything I had worked for crumbled right in front of me. But all summer I would watch Marcus’s speeches on youtube. And at the moment sitting there sitting in the pre-op room, I told myself what Marcus said told himself in his situation during operation red-wings. “Quit being a bitch and get up”. That’s what I told myself in the pre-op room. Some things went south during surgery. When removing the old metal bar, the bar punctured my lung and the chest wall slammed back down to its old position and knocked my heart rate down to a low rate. From that point on I applied the Never Quit mindset and with that mindset I tackled the pain and turned it into a positive. I played my senior basketball with my new chest and I could play all game long with that new breathing. But still to this day with my story I have met teens In my local county that have the same condition as me. Every person I tell my story too, I tell them I used the Never Quit from the TNQ community. I want to spread my story not to receive any pity or applause, but to help people with my condition and inform them that there is a solution.
Again Thank you for your time if you have read this letter thus far.
God bless you guys.