Ups & Downs
I haven’t attended a major league baseball game in awhile. Its been almost two weeks. I haven’t retired from ballhawking.
I had planned on attending a game in Baltimore on Monday. I had purchased two decent season tickets for the game right behind first base on eBay. The plan was to drive down to Baltimore for batting practice, and then drive back afterward. However, Sunday night I was cutting the grass after-you guessed it-more rain, and took a nasty spill, landing squarely on my left elbow. Blood started dripping from a small gash, but I finished the grass anyway, like a true warrior. Later on, my elbow became sore. Coupled with a weather forecast of scattered thunderstorms, I decided late Sunday night just to eat the cost of the tickets. I didn’t feel like spending $45 in gas, and spending 10 hours of my day to possibly only get a couple baseballs. In retrospect, I wish I would’ve went, because I later learned that a couple members of the ballhawk league had attended that game.
Wednesday brought about my long awaited 41st Dave Matthews Band concert in Cleveland (Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio)
This is one of my favorite venues to see a concert at. It’s sort of like a Fenway Park or Wrigley Field of venues, in that it is very unique. The entire interior of this spaceship looking amphitheater is comprised from natural wood.
After the concert was over, we sprinted back to the car to beat the masses. Once, I sat in traffic for upwards of two hours waiting to get out of the parking lot there. Making record time, we only had to sit in traffic for 10 minutes.
I got home at 2AM’ish on Thursday morning, woke up at 9AM to go do the coaching thing, and then waited around until the afternoon to play a round of home run derby. The home run derby would lead to the ultimate destruction of my week, and possibly the worst pain I’ve ever experienced.
I had arranged to meet up with two ballhawks from PNC Park, Nick and Bryan Pelescak, and a friend of mine, Ryan Sabo. Ryan and I took two practice rounds of five outs each before our competitors showed up. I hit one ball with home run distance on it, but it cleared the fence foul. My other hits were mostly grounders and liners. I wasn’t worried though, when it was time to step up, I’d be ok.
When it came my turn to hit, I jogged in from short left field, where I had been shagging, and bent over to pick up a loose ball on the infield. About half way down while I was picking the ball up, I felt a sharp, crippling pain in my lower back. It felt as if someone had stabbed me with a knife and twisted it. The sudden and unexpected pain almost dropped me to my knees, but I clenched my legs and forced myself to an upright position. I took a few moments to regain my composure, and tried to hit.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t swing the bat. I could muster a half hearted swing with my left arm, but wasn’t able to contribute anything with my legs, hips, feet, or right arm. I hit all tens balls, the farthest one trickling just past third.
I was a gamer and toughed it out for the rest of the derby, gingerly helping pick up balls and rolling them into the infield (no, I couldn’t even throw overhand.)
Ryan Sabo ended up winning the home run derby, hitting two home runs over the 300+ foot fence. Nick and Bryan each also came close, with several one bouncers. Nick hit the wall near the deepest part of the park. To be fair to them, the wind was blowing in.
After ending home run derby, I immediately drove home and got into bed. Once I laid down in bed, I was unable to move. I was completely incapacitated.
I tried several times to roll over onto my side (I’m a side sleeper), but wasn’t able to without the horrid pain shooting through my lower back. I laid in bed from 7 until 3:30 AM, all the while, not being able to get a wink of sleep thanks to the severe discomfort I was experiencing.
At 3:30 in the morning, I was thirsty and uncomfortable, so I began a ten minute process of getting up out of bed. I had planned to go downstairs and fall asleep sitting up in a rocking chair. I figured maybe that would be better for my back, and I would actually get some shut eye.
However, when I stood up, the pain got the better of me. I took four small baby steps towards my dresser. I focused on the red power light button on the tv which sits atop my dresser, attempting to reach that spot, to brace m
yself, and take a breather.
However, the red power light started moving. The whole room started to spin. Before I knew it, I was lying face up on the floor. I had fainted. When I came to, I had a splitting head ache. My head had bounced off of the floor hard. I knicked my pinky finger on the way down and was missed a small piece of skin. My collapse awakened my wife, who got my some advil and gave me a pillow. I laid where I had fallen for the rest of the night. No sleep would come for me.
My wife called off of work on Friday to take me to the chiropracter. My hope was that I would be able to get my back popped into place, and I would magically be able to be on my way and attend tonight’s Pirates game.
Getting up off the floor was nearly an hour long operation. First, I had to get in a seated position. That took some time. Then, I tried to pull myself up using the bed with my wife’s assistance. I was eventually able to stand up, but not completely upright. My torso was hunched forward. When I did straighten my back completely, I turned pale. I started to sweat profusely. My back had paralyzing pain shooting through it.
My wife said I started to sway back and forth, my eyes rolled back, and I fainted again. When I woke up, I was on the floor, confused. “How did this happen!” I said, realizing that I had just wasted all this time trying to stand up, and was now back at square one.
My wife got my a few granola bars and a propel water, which helped me feel a bit better. However, on the second collapse, I had gashed my leg on something, and was bleeding. I had never fainted before in my life. My wife had never seen anyone faint before. It was scary for both of us.
I was eventually able to get up with the help of my wife and crutches. We made it down the stairs, and into the car. She drove me to the chiropracter.
He took some xrays of my back. He said he didn’t see anything real abnormal. He felt that based on my symptoms, that I was having extreme and severe back spasms. He had me stand facing an upright table, strapped me in, and then swiveled me down so that I was horizontal. Which was good, because there was no way that I was going to be able to lay down on a table, the normal way.
He hooked up some electromagnatic pulsing pads to my back, and placed a big ice bag. Finally, after about 18 hours, I had some relief in my back. He then popped something, which wasn’t a picnic, and brought me back up to stand up. Immediately, I felt pain again.
He said it would likely last for awhile, but I should be 50% better by Monday (two days away, argh.)
One thing he noticed that surprised me is that my left leg is “substantially” longer than my right.
Since late June, I have been running three miles a day. I wonder if this abnormality in my legs contributed to my sudden and mysterious back condition.
to conclude, I am in a lot of pain, and will definitely be missing these upcoming Pirate home games. If by some miracle I am able to walk without crutches, you may see me down there soon trying to get some balls tossed to me. (I think I’m out of luck when it comes to chasing down homers for a little while though.)