Today we are interviewing Jeremy Green, football and basketball coach extraordinaire, bass guitarist and all around star! His daily dealings with sickle cell haven’t stopped him from going after what he wants in life. He is dedicated, passionate, and determined to live the best life he can!
Let’s get started. Tell us, Jeremy, how old where you when you found out you had sickle cell?
I was in the 8th Grade and about 14 years old back in 2000. I was sick again and just thought it was growing pains, but I also was playing all-star basketball at the time and had a really bad cold, which ended up being pneumonia, and they found that I had sickle cell.
How were you able to cope with school and sickle cell?
I am very religious and have strong faith in God so I down played it, but I wasn’t ashamed of it. I just carried myself as everyone else. I was able to play sports despite what doctors told me and not only did I play, but I was also considered one of the best on my team, the area, and also the state, during my senior year in football. Because I was a big guy I played defensive line, which is one of the positions that takes, or in my case, gives, the most hits. Nonetheless, I love football and that was my coping method. Plus, with it being a smaller community I was already very popular, so that made it better.
How did your childhood and your parents influence you in your choice of career?
I am still in search of what I want to do with my life. Until a year and a half ago, I had my sickle cell pretty well in hand, but I went off to college to play football and continued to play for a while just at different schools. I was good enough to go pro, which is why a coach offered me a scholarship to play at Florida State University. But when they found out about my sickle cell I was gone. I then enrolled at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, but because a kid died from sickle cell trait it spooked my family because the coach was tough, very tough, and only cared about winning. So I only stayed on the team for a few months then resigned.
Three years later I got another offer to play at Fort Valley State University for a season. Due to a lot of inconsistencies with money and the fact my AA degree did not transfer it was like I was never there. I did not have the money to pay for classes so I was booted from the system. However, the coaching staff and trainers and doctors were very helpful in making sure I was accommodated.
My focus is on a few things right now, one, which is a family owned business that’s just starting up which is a lawn care service. Two is that I coach football and basketball for my alma mater high school, plus my city’s youth league football team as well. I also am striving to get my certificate in computer technology.
What do you do? What kind of experience and schooling does one need to get your job?
As I stated in the last question I am currently coaching and all you need is a CPR certificate and pay for fingerprinting in the county you coach in and of course you need to know somebody.
Describe a typical day on your job.
I drive up to the field, get the kids stretching, laugh and talk with them and other coaches. We begin practice and I coach the defensive and offensive line for our junior varsity this year, so practice is much more laid back and we are done in about two hours. I take them through drills and we come together as a team, then we condition.
How do you manage SCD and still maintain a thriving career?
Maintaining SCD is hard unless the people you work with are understanding and are willing to be lenient with you. I try to take my meds as soon as I feel anything like a crisis. It usually lasts about a week, sometimes longer, but I try to at least get it to the point to where I can manage with pain meds and continue through a normal day. It gets hard though because I have been released from two jobs because of it even though the last job didn’t say it, they said it was because of budget cuts. So it has been difficult for me. Football has been the only real understanding place of business for me and I figured they would push me out the most.
Have you noticed a difference in how your coworkers treat you once they know you have SCD?
No one ever treats me any different, just understanding as to why I miss work so often.
What advice would you give to someone wanting to join your profession that has sickle cell?
Trust in God and in your body because you two are the only ones who truly know your limits. Also find the best doctor who will have your best interests at heart and who knows you as a person, and who will be able to give you the meds that you know will help you, whether it be folic acid or oxycodone. Make sure you always have the things you need!!! But more importantly make sure God is the number one doctor, provider, protector, your everything.
Has sickle cell limited any areas of your life?
Only just recently with working a regular job because I had been getting sick like twice a month or once a month lasting for a week or two. Other than that I still exercise, play football and basketball, lift weights and have a normal relationship with women and things like that, and I am great at all those things. I go to church where my mom is the pastor and my dad is head deacon and my brother and I are musicians. I play bass guitar and he plays keyboard. So no, I can’t really say it has limited me unless I’m in pain.
When you do reach obstacles in your life, what helps you through it?
Prayer, my friends and family, and if it’s sickness, my pain meds and hydration from my favorite beverage, Gatorade. I try to stay positive through it all even though this year I have had some victories but tons of new challenges within my body.
Do you have regular pain (more than 2x a week)? How do you cope with this when you are working?
I just hydrate, rest, and lay on my pain meds and stay away from the hospital. I cannot stand going to the hospital. I feel like I am always judged because I may be the biggest sickle patient ever. I stand at 6’5 and am about 290-300 lbs so I don’t know if they don’t believe I have it or they just like being stingy with meds or they are trying to hurry up and open up another bed, but I hate being there for hours on end waiting to be seen. Instead, I self medicate and as I said earlier you must have a boss who understands and is willing to be patient and show some compassion and understanding.
What is your daily medication regimen and what medications do you take when you are in pain?
Oxycodone 30 mg 4x a day but when I’m sick I would take a half in between a six hour period because it wears off a bit faster than when I’m not in as much pain, but I fight to keep it under control.
How has sickle cell affected your personal life? For example, are you in a relationship, do you have kids, etc.
I have not had the privilege of having kids of my own, but I am in a relationship and my girlfriend has a 12-year-old son whom I love like my own. It has been quite the experience in having a hand in raising him. As I stated in earlier questions I was a football stud and a college stud, so my “personal life” is very well.
Looking at the 14-year-old version of yourself, what would you tell him or her if you could…?
Nothing that I would not do now, besides maybe relying on pain meds so much when we get older because people are trying take them away from us. It’s the ones whose sons or daughters, God bless their souls, who had no business with them in the first place, and took too many or did not care to live life any longer, that have them in such an uproar about our meds. All the laws are being changed, either because people whose kids shouldn’t have them are either strung out on them or are dead, or that drug dealers have made too much from selling them and that is the truth. A lot of us who are on it don’t care to be a slave to it, but most of us have no choice because the pain is frequent and all the other methods in the world don’t work. Only certain things work for us, especially me. A lot of the things they tried through IV did not work until they tried Dilaudid. Percocet worked for a while until the acetaminophen got to be too much for my kidneys. So kids, just be aware in the future and keep praying. Keep fighting to make your dreams come true, because once upon a time we were very close to playing in the big leagues.
Thank you so much for doing this interview!!!