Firstly, I am absolutely overwhelmed by the amount of feedback we have received here on our site regarding my third "Street Fight" with Bells palsy. Your out pouring of support has been amazing and is the best medicine a guy could have. I have had an emotional time reading thru many of the emails that we have received but the tears I have shed have been tears of happiness. Here's the latest....
I saw my neurologist today in Norman and had a long consultation and some testing. He diagnosed me, as expected with full blown Bells palsy. It is on the right side of my face and has adversely affected my vision in my right eye more than previous bouts. We are concerned about the cornea in my right eye being damaged which is why I am using a ton of artificial tears and having to tape my eye shut at night to sleep along with using a gel in my eye under the eye patch.
Talk about tough and committed....wife Jan has to not only sleep with me wearing my sleep apnea mask but now I'm wearing an eye patch, to boot.
I can talk pretty well out of the left side of my mouth, perhaps I should consider a radio career...that was a joke...but my face has drooped some on the right side making me not TV friendly...if I ever was.....that was another joke.
We have a MRI scheduled for Friday morning to...insert your own joke here....to check out my brain to make sure that there isn't any thing going on that shouldn't be.
My time line on returning to work is unknown as I write this. I wish it was going to be this Sunday in Pittsburgh as I wanted to be a part of Bragging Rights on PPV. I think it will be a fun and a unique show that will be showcasing some new talents in key bouts. How well they perform is up to them but I hope that they take advantage of their opportunities no matter their roles. It's easy to "get lost" in a 7 man tag, for instance, but it is up to every man in the match to make their presence felt. Quality minutes is just as important as quantity of minutes.
So, Sunday night I will be at home in Norman watching Bragging Rights on PPV. I don't know the announcer lineup but it "might" be a three man team of Cole, King, and Todd Grisham but that's only an educated guess. It could be something else altogether but obviously Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler will be figured in the mix prominently.
One huge regret this week was not being able to reunite, albeit for one night only, with the King. I hope we get that opportunity again some day.
The emails/texts that I have received from some of the most prominent names in the biz have been amazing. Vince McMahon, Steve Austin, The Undertaker, The Rock, Dusty Rhodes, Gerry Brisco, Taz, Dr. Death, JBL, Ric Flair and so many others too numerous to mention. I just got a text a few minutes ago from OU head football coach Bob Stoops which was inspirational. My friends Sean and John on AM1560 "The Game" which is the top rated sports talk station in Houston and on which I appear every Wednesday at 5 have forwarded me emails from fans who may not like my Sooners but who have reached out to me with their best wishes.
So the fight continues. I will overcome this challenge just as I have before. My love for the fans and for the business and those that make the wrestling business so much fun to be a part of plus my faith will lead me back to ringside when the time is right and it is meant to be.
There are so many people that have issues much worse than mine that I use their battles to give me strength. Guys like "Dr. Death" Steve Williams, a man I love, who is battling cancer again, gives me inspiration.
For those fans that think that this is the end for me or the end is near I suggest you rethink your position. I won't allow your views to adversely affect me because I still love to play the game. I am an old school guy who still loves calling wrestling matches and sitting at ringside soaking up the adrenaline from the fans.
I firmly and realistically believe that my best days in the wrestling biz are still ahead of me. I'm 57 not 75. I might just become the JoePa of wrestling. O.K. perhaps that's taking it to the extreme.
My face may be sagging, my right eye may be not so good, my tongue is numb, my head aches and my right ear is sensitive to sharp noises but my heart and my soul are stout and my desire to get back in the game has never been stronger.
So, I will do my WWE responsibilities that do not incur traveling to TV and I'll sell a little BBQ while I'm healing. We are working with Oklahoma based Homeland Grocery Stores to put our sauces and ketchup in their stores which I hope to finalize in the next two weeks. Plus, our on line business will get a little more of my attention. I have been told to not allow myself to get too stressed out so I won't be re-watching the OU-Texas football game of last week in the Cotton Bowl. I was told by my neurologist to go watch the Sooners this week in Lawrence, Kansas and if Mrs. JR gives me a "hall pass" that's where I will be because supporting my team makes me happy....win or lose. Then I will return home in time to enjoy Bragging Rights on pay per view and calling every move in my head.
Let me assure you that nothing makes me happier professionally than broadcasting wrestling and being around the product. I love our business and I can assure you that you haven't seen the last of me yet.
Thanks again for the well wishes and especially the all the prayers. I hope that I can someday help all of you as much as you are helping me.