On any given Friday night during the South Georgia high school football season, as you tune around listening to your favorite high school football team’s broadcast on the radio, chances are you’ve heard the booming voice of Wes James coming through your radio.
James has been part of the Lowndes Vikings radio broadcast team, the Viking Voice, for 18 years, calling Viking home and away games during that time. James loves the Vikings and loves to be behind the microphone, so he’s been right at home in the press box on Friday nights.
Last fall, James called his final game for his beloved Vikings, deciding to call it quits. While Vikings fans surely hate to see him go, at least he got to do it on his own terms, rather than be forced to step away, which is exactly what almost happened to James on two different occasions with health scares.
The first came in the spring of 2000. James woke up one morning hurting with mild stomach pain, and as the day went on, the pain grew worse. Finally, he decided to visit his family doctor, who, after examining him, sent James to Dr. David Parker. At the time, James thought he would be examined, get a prescription, and be on his way home. James found out quickly that would not be the case.
“I asked Dr. Parker how long my exam would take,” James said. “That’s when he gave me the news: three days.”
Parker wanted to do extensive tests to determine the cause of James’ problem. Those tests revealed that James had diverticulitis, a painful inflammation of the digestive tract. James was given a course of antibiotics and pain medication in hopes of clearing up the affliction.
After six weeks, however, his condition had not improved, and he underwent surgery. Dr. Parker performed the operation, removing a portion of diseased tissue from James’ colon.
James was able to return to normal activities after the surgery, and everything was fine. It appeared the surgery had corrected the problems in his abdomen. He had no pain, and life was good.
Then, in September of 2011, he began having stomach pains once again; only this time, the pain was accompanied with a serious problem: James noticed blood in his stool. Thinking (and hoping) the problem would go away, Wes went about his day,until later that night, when things weren’t getting any better. That’s when he called 911.
EMTs transported James to South Georgia Medical Center, where a series of tests revealed the problem. An artery was leaking blood into his colon. While James was waiting to be taken into surgery, the artery ruptured. It was then a race against the clock as he was losing massive amounts of blood.
“I was given 17 units of blood before I went into surgery,” James said. “I was told later by the doctor that he didn’t know if I was going to make it if they didn’t operate right away”.
The doctor that James was referring to, and the surgeon who would perform the surgery, just happened to be the same person who had operated on him 11 years earlier. Parker was once again called on to go in and fix the problem, but time was running out. Even with the blood transfusion, it was critical that Parker find and correct the problem. Fortunately for James, Parker did just that, and the legendary voice of the Vikings is grateful that the former Valdosta Wildcat just happened to be available once again.
“I owe Dr. Parker my life,” James said.
Speaking of Wildcats and Vikings, the Winnersvile Classic game that year was coming up, but James was still recovering from major surgery, which took 54 staples to close. However, following the operation and a two-week stay in the hospital, he was determined to be on the call, and indeed he was.
After slowly climbing the stairs of Martin Stadium’s massive home side leading up to the pressbox, James settled into his customary spot behind the microphone, and with the words, “Good evening, Vikings Fans,” Wes James was back.
Written by: Phil Jones | Photography by: Brandon Pham