Thursday, January 5, 2012

Kingsport's Crown Prince of Comedy: "I Feel Much Better"

You never know what to expect when you interview Tim Hall, Kingsport's Clown Prince of Comedy.

During a visit on Tuesday, January 3rd, the first thing he asked me? "Why are you here?"

He wrote it down, to make sure I knew what he said.

"I'm just like all the Riverview folk you talk about in your comedy routines," I replied. "And we all have one thing in common: 'We always look out for each other.'

This was no ordinary visit, and no ordinary interview. Tim had written his question down, because he was having trouble saying it out loud.

Our interview was at his bedside in the intensive care unit at the Johnson City Medical Center.

On Friday, December 30th, Tim had emergency surgery to remove tumors from his brain.

Three of them. And one in a very dangerous spot.

"It started about a month ago, right around Thanksgiving, Calvin," he remembers. "I was walking around a lot at work and I was getting real tired.. seemed like it was a labor just putting one foot in front of the other. I'd rest a few minutes, then work a few minutes and later, I was so tired I could hardly stand up."

Tim made the decision to have an MRI done. It was a decision that most likely, saved his life.

"The MRI showed 3 tumors on my brain, the largest about the size of a nickel," Tim says. "It was about where the top of my spinal cord was. That's why when I walked, I would get so tired."

3 brain tumors that weakened and temporarily sidelined a man, who's natural gift of comedy, was suddenly no laughing matter.

"It was very delicate surgery," says Tim's brother Donovan of Nashville, who stayed at his brother's bedside both during and after the operation. "Any time you're dealing with brain surgery, one wrong move and something bad could happen. But the doctor who performed the surgery told me he'd been doing this tyhpe of surgery for 16 years.. that he's done it so many times that he knows exactly what he is doing, and that everything should come out fine."

"The doctor did pretty much what he said he was going to do."

After the surgery, Donovan caught up with the doctor for a progress report on his older brother.

"He said everything went fine, that they'll continue to do some tests over the next few weeks and draw up some reports," he said. "Right now, he doesn't have to have any radiation or chemo-theerapy, and the test results will determine where we go from here. For now, he said 'we got everything.'"

The diagnosis that Tim even had tumors in the first place, stunned his family.


"Complete shock," says Donovan. "I mean, me and Tim talk every day, sometimes two or three times a day. We talk about health issues now.. things we never talked about growing up, but now that we're older, it just seems more important. He never mentioned that he was having weak spells, nothing about it at all. Nobody ever even suspected something this serious."

Donovan says, all of a sudden, Wednesday, just before the surgery, Tim called him.

"He said, 'I'm telling you this now.. that I'm going in Friday to have surgery. I wanted you to know that they found some tumors on my brain.' I'm like, 'wow.. you just now telling me this?' In what is Tim's way, he said the reason I'm telling you this now is that he didn't want to mess up everybody's holiday."

"Ton of bricks.. there is never a good time to tell anybody news like that."

But Tim Hall is a tough cookie. He isn't about to sit on the sidelines for long.

"I'm fine now, Calvin," he says. "I'm fine. I feel much better. God has taken care of me, and I feel much better."


For Tim, he'll have sessions with a speech therapist and also a physical therapist. That's where you notice the old Tim is still around.

"He gets techniques to practice getting his voice to stabilize, especially at night when nobody is listening," Donovan says. "The therapist told him 'it's something like singing, and we'll do the techniques like we are singing.' Tim was like 'well, just in case you don't know, I DO sing.' In only the way that Tim can say it, he said 'I DO know how to do that' and the therapist laughed out loud. It was pretty cool."

"That's how I knew Tim hadn't changed."

His brother says, Tim will spend a few days in the hospital, where everybody is encouraged to visit. He wants to save home for private time for the continued therapy he'll have to have over the next few weeks, so try to see him at the hospital.

Donovan says, the whole experience with his older brother is a wake-up call for anybody suffering with unknown symtoms of a bigger problem, or anybody who ever notices different behavior in a loved one.

"This is a good example of not letting your health get the better of you," he says, "because somebody close to you will notice that something is wrong. You can't hide it. If you feel bad, get it checked out. This is definitely an eye-opener for people who are suffering and don't see a doctor to find out why."

"Perhaps Tim's experience will encourage others to either see a doctor if they feel bad, or loved ones to ask if they notice something different about you."

The message Tim has to his family, friends, loved ones and his many fans is a simple one.

"Calvin, just tell them to pray for me," he says. "Just say a prayer for me. I've been way down, and I'm slowly pulling back ujp. Just pray for me. We all need prayer in our lives. In a few months, I'll be hahaha'ing again. Tell everybody not to forget about me, hahaha."

"But how could they forget? I tend to grow on people, hahaha."