Popular voiceover artist Cayman Kelly opened-up to candidly discuss a catastrophic health event he recently suffered.
This past Martin Luther King Jr. Day, on January 17, Kelly began experiencing a rapid loss of feeling and sensation in his right hand. Throughout the day, as symptoms progressed to include a slowing down of motor-response time and cognitive impairment, Kelly tried to ignore what was going on because he had a busy work schedule. It was not until Cayman Kelly‘s wife first noticed his symptoms that he was rushed to a hospital. The ER doctors confirmed what she suspected: the popular voice of Monday Night Football was suffering from an ischemic stroke due to a blood clot in the brain.
“It was absolutely unreal, that whole day,” said Kelly. “Early on, I had stretched out on the floor for a few minutes, so when my hand started going numb, I just figured I had laid on it too long. The symptoms got much more intense – I was trying to type an email on my phone and noticed how difficult it was to try to complete the message. Then, I started dropping my phone on the floor repeatedly. When I went to wash my hands, I started to notice how I was cognitively slowing down because I wasn’t actually washing my hands, although I was standing there with the water running. But even though the feeling in my fingers never returned, I ignored it and went about my day.”
Kelly recounted that he was able to walk normally that day – though in a haze – and even drove to pick his children up from a dental appointment. He was completely unaware that his time was running out.
“Later on, I went to my studio and just kept thinking ‘I have work to do – this will ease up soon.’ I knew something was wrong, I had lost the motor skills of my right hand, but I was just going to ‘man up’ and hope that things would get better. Thankfully, my wife was off work that day. She called me on her way from an appointment and that’s when I confessed that I wasn’t having a good day.
I explained what I was experiencing and she asked me did I dial 911. I told her, ‘No, I didn’t, I will be okay.’ She then gave me a choice, either I could call 911 or she was going to take me to the ER when she got home. As soon as she arrived home she said let’s go! She drove me to the ER.
And even as she drove me there, I just kept trying to work on my phone and message folks, which I was still having trouble doing, but I kept trying to play it off like I was fine. I was in denial! I talk about my wife a lot because she has encouraged me to do most of the things that I am doing in my career and I always try to let her know how thankful I am for all that she has done! Now, I have to credit her for saving my life! Tests revealed that I was having a stroke. The very next day after I was admitted, she was feeding me breakfast when I went into a full-blown seizure. It was really intense.”
Study after study shows that men do not take their health seriously. Two-thirds of men – a full 65% – wait too long to see a doctor, even when they have serious symptoms.
And over 65% of men try to self-diagnose before going to the doctor – looking online to solve major medical mysteries rather than consulting a professional. For most men, it is a deeply rooted cultural and gender issue: a “male thing.” Men often put their health second because “real men” are taught as children to never complain – even when sick or in pain. And that attitude kills men far more often than women.
“I’m happy to say that I’m almost fully recovered now. Even the doctors were surprised at how quickly I bounced back. I have full use of my hand and the stroke hasn’t affected my speech. But that was a warning – a big one. And this time, I am listening. I will be taking it easy for a while – making some changes. I just want men to hear my story so they will start taking their health more seriously. Health absolutely needs to be at the top of your priority list. Because if it’s not, you won’t be around long enough to worry about the rest.”
For up-to-the-minute news on Kelly’s voice appearances, ESPN show announcements, and other projects, visit him online. And follow Cayman Kelly on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.