Archive for April, 2009

Good news. Bad news.

Which would you like first? My good news… or my bad news?

Bad news. Good news.

Take your pick… it’s all the same to me. Not so good news turns to good news when followed by bad news. Really bad news turns to regular bad news when followed by good news. So it really shouldn’t matter what order they are given to you. Of course if you really don’t know me then you probably don’t care either way.

Although in that case you’d have to be an extremely cold and uncaring person. Most of us get very upset when we hear of tragedies that happen to complete strangers.

Good News: We don’t think my ankle is broken. The pain is more likely a result of tendinitis. There is a special boot that I can wear under my shoe that will help to take the stress off of my ankle. It should be arriving any day. I also have meds to help with the pain and inflammation and need to elevate and ice the area. NO BICYCLING FOR ONE MONTH.

Bad News: There is an area of concern that has shown up on another bone in my ankle. It’s possibly another tumor beginning to form. I’ll go back in four weeks for a follow-up and we’ll see what it looks like then. If it’s a tumor he’ll go back in and… well you know the routine by now. NO BICYCLING FOR AT LEAST TWO MONTHS.

If you sit back and really think about it, it’s actually all good news.

I fell asleep early last night.

When I awoke at 1am, I watched 24 and then switched to SportsCenter.

Mark “the Bird” Fidrych had died. He was found under his dump truck on his farm outside of Boston earlier on Monday.

My father coached my younger brother’s Little League team in 1976. It was the same year that Fidrych became a pop icon as a kid who won 19 games for the Detroit Tigers and the first player to win The Rookie of the Year Award and named the starting pitcher of the All-Star Game.

I had a front row seat in the dugout that season at my brother’s games. I was 4 years his senior and getting my first shot as a teacher.

I proceeded to encourage my brother to act like the Bird whenever he took the pitcher’s mound.

He was a little reluctant but I was able to convince him into putting on his own little “Bird” show one warm early evening in Forestville. I made him talk to the baseball between pitches. I yelled out for him to kneel on the mound and use his hands to fill in the holes with the pebbly dirt.

I don’t think my brother was completely comfortable raking the mound with his fingertips at the beginning of the inning and talking to the baseball before sending it toward the batter. But, holy mackerel, for a few short innings that spring, my little brother was my little bird.

 

To many baseball fans, Harry Kalas was the voice of the Philadelphia Phillies. I remember him as the soundtrack to my football memories.

Mr. Kalas was also a narrator for NFL Films. As a young man in my early twenties, I’d stay up all hours of the night recording anything and everything that NFL Films had to offer.

I have hundreds of hours on VHS tape of NFL history lessons with Mr. Kalas as my instructor and host.

 

As adults, we tend to lose more and more of our childhood memories as each day turns into the next. Losing two contibutors on the same day is way too much to replay at once.

This weekend the role of the “good father” is being played by Ron Goralski (me). Actually I’ve played that role quite well for the past twenty-six years but this weekend it’s been a little more painful than usual.

Allow me to digress just a bit. When last we left our caped daddy (me), he was just getting back on his feet after his second tumor-removal surgery in a year. He was excited and ready to ride his bicycle again. But the pain (oh the pain) was just too much to bear and during a recent Little League practice he crumbled to the crabgrass in pain and needed to summon his trusty crutches yet once again.

(Back to writing in the first-person) Yeah so where was I? Oh… the pain. I knew something was wrong again so I made another appointment to see Tumor Doc and after an xray he thought maybe I had a cracked bone in my ankle. This would not be too unusual considering the amount and extend of work that had been done on those previous surgeries. If it was indeed broken, I’d be in a hard cast for another 6-8 weeks. OK understand this: I have been on crutches for probably 10 out of the past 15 months.

So T.D. (Tumor Doc) sent me for a CT Scan so that he could get a closer look. He was quite sure that it was still too soon for another tumor to have formed but wanted to be sure. He also told me to wear the stupid boot again and use my crutches. “Sure thing Tumor Genius,” I thought to myself as I limped toward the exit sign.

On Thursday I had the CT Scan done and asked for a CD to take back to T.D. The second I reached home I popped the CD into my computer and right there in front of me where 3D movable pictures of my ankle. I could see the two areas of bone cement, I could see the eggshell-thin bone that was left of my ankle joint, and of course I saw NO signs of a fracture. Now I must admit that I’d only become an expert CT Scan interpreter a few months earlier, but until I was going to see him the following Tuesday at my follow-up appointment, it was good enough for me.

So back to the weekend of being a Super Dad: I ditched the ACE wrap, the crutches, and all of my common sense (which isn’t much these days… ha-ha I beat most of you to that conclusion).

On Good Friday I took the boy to the Little League field and let him pitch to me for half of an hour. Then I hit him ground balls for another half of an hour. And finally I pitched batting practice for yet another half of an hour. I have to say that I felt pretty damn good. On a scale of 1-10, the pain was a 7 which beats the 9.8 from the practice earlier in the week. We went home and I did some yard work. I pulled out the Pitch Back and set the yard up for out mini-practice sessions. My pain still hovered around the 7 mark. I spent the rest of the day on the couch only getting up to clean a little because I thought an old friend was dropping by (he never made it over but the house looked good).

Now it’s Saturday morning. He has me up early to go fishing. My ankle is at an 8. I grab my crutches, laptop, Perks, and an umbrella and we walk the 5 miles… ok maybe 1 mile… or quarter mile to the lake. This is where I am right now as I tell my story. So I’m on a picnic table… a cold wet one with my umbrella protecting me and the laptop. It’s drizzling and the boy is fishing. He says he’s going over to get his buddy just a few houses down to fish with him. It’s 20 minutes later and I’m in the freaking rain on the wet picnic table and he is nowhere to be found. I’d bet the bone-cement in my ankle that he’s in their warm, dry house drinking hot chocolate and playing Wii.

It’s raining harder now. I can’t hold an umbrella and crutches at the same time. I must look like a complete idiot because I am yelling his name and it’s echoing across the empty lake. I’m pissed-off like you can’t even imagine. The kid whined for half of yesterday and all morning about how badly he needed to toss his line into the lake.

Now it’s a steady rain… closer to pouring. I am going to strangle his chubby little neck. Did he forget about me? Ahhh… here he comes. He has some stupid story about having to go to another person’s house too. I tell him to fish! I tell him the fish come to the top when it’s raining. He wants to know where I heard that from. I told him everyone knows it. I want him to fish until he is drenched. I’m chilly but actually quite dry although my laptop will be running out of juice soon. No need to worry, I have my iPod. I can outlast him. DO NOT EVER take me fishing and then leave me in the rain.

Hey! He thinks he was a bite. Oh damn, another Lake Garda twig. I don’t think he’s having fun anymore so I’ll let him suffer another ten minutes and then head the 10 miles back home on my crutches… uphill…. raining.

OMG the wife just pulled up in the Subaru. She’s on her way to shop for Easter. But I will NOT take the easy way home. I AM SUPER DAD… HEY WAIT FOR ME!