Mickey Starling: Greene Publishing, Inc.
Many people deal with vertigo from time to time and usually it is easily treated with medication. But, for Madison native Jim Adams, who experienced repeated vertigo in the Fall of 2017, nothing was working. Adams described his problem to a doctor on Friday, Sept. 15, who decided to order a CAT scan. The doctor called Adams the next morning with some disturbing news. "You have a tumor bigger than a golf ball around your cerebral cortex and brain stem," said the doctor, who went on to explain that this was the area where the brain joins the spinal column.
To make matters worse, the tumor was too large for radiation or laser treatment and would have to be removed surgically. Due to the dangerous location of the tumor, the surgery was moved up twice and was finally scheduled for Oct. 5. The plan was for a simple recovery, requiring about five days in Archbold Medical Center, in Thomasville, Ga. where the surgery took place. After surgery on the benign tumor, all was well until Adams suddenly developed bacterial meningitis, sending him into a nine-day coma and 63 days in the hospital.
Adams' wife, Teresa Adams, remained by his side daily, praying for God to restore her husband, who now was dependent on a feeding tube for survival. Adams, whose normal weight was over 200 lb., lost 70 lb. in 35 days. After nine days, Teresa came into his room and exclaimed, "I can see your eyes!" This started the long process of recovery and relearning basic tasks like talking and swallowing. These and other issues were dealt with daily during the next three weeks of therapy in Thomasville. Afterwards, Adams continued speech therapy in Quitman, Ga. and occupational and physical therapy in Valdosta.
Since Teresa works as a Physical Therapy Assistant (PTA), Adams knew he would not be allowed an easy road in recovery, something he is thankful for today. "My parents would bring me my shoes, but my wife would move my shoes further away, so I'd have to go get them," said Adams. "She forced me to get better." Though Teresa wasn't responsible for his therapy, she did keep a watchful eye on his progress and notified his therapist when she thought he needed some reminders or an extra push to aid in his recovery. "Sometimes I would think I was doing better than I actually was, so the therapist would tell me to catch balls as they threw them to me and I would promptly drop them," said Adams. "Even making my feet take steps was difficult for a time. My left side was in a stroke-like condition for about six months."
Along with the physical hurdles faced during recovery, Adams also faced mounting medical bills. Fortunately, Lt. Chris Cooks and former Investigator Jimmy Fletcher, of the Madison Police Department, teamed up to sponsor a cook-out that raised a significant amount of money. Area churches and individuals also contributed funds that helped the Adamses deal with their bills while having no health insurance. "I got so much help, I had to start telling people,' help someone else. I'm okay,'" said Adams.
Today, Adams has returned to his home inspection business, which he operates with his youngest son, Jacob, but he has retired from the contracting business he formerly ran. Adams is working out daily and continues to regain his appetite. His stomach shrank significantly during and after the coma, so Adams eats five or six times a day to continue strengthening. "At first, I was so weak that I couldn't get out of a chair without help," said Adams. He was blessed to have family that provided 24-hour care during those early days.
Though his strength is returning, neurological issues persist. Adams is prone to bouts of double-vision when he focuses intently and he is thankful that his eyes relax while driving, so that his vision remains clear. Regaining balance is an ongoing process that is steadily improving, "but I'm not getting on a ladder for the time being," said Adams.
All major events in life have the capacity to teach valuable lessons and Adams hasn't let this setback go to waste. "Before the tumor, I thought I was in control," said Adams. "I was always successful at everything I did, but I have learned that success was a gift from God. I have what I have because God allows it. I am not in control. I'm more focused on glorifying God with my life now."
The Adamses have two children: Justin and Jacob, who were both instrumental in taking care of things at home while Adams was hospitalized.