Doctor My Eyes....(Post #12)
We have all had that dream where we are walking through the hallways of a high school, everything seems to be moving along like a normal day and then we begin to notice everyone starting to stare, point and laugh. Then as our eyes begin to wonder downward, south of the border so to say, we come to the horrifying conclusion that we are completely naked for everyone to see. Thank goodness this form of humiliation only exists in our dreams, or nightmares, and no matter how long you walk the hallway in your birthday suit, at some point you are going to wake up! But there are most certainly times in real life in which we experience levels of humiliation that feel like they will stick with us forever…and unfortunately, sometimes those moments are persistently seared in our memory like bad song lyrics. I have experienced so many levels of physical pain over the past 14 years, sensations of agony and discomfort that I would never wish upon anyone, but as they say, pain heals and chicks dig scars (well, kind of, you know my opinion on scars). What we aren’t usually prepared for is that there are some things that we never forget and yet we are each obligated to find our own way of dealing with such issues. The feeling of humiliation can be as painful as a 14-hour surgery, but there never tends to be a cool story that comes along with it.
“Touch and go”, a phrase I am sure that my parents never want to hear ever again. Just in case it wasn’t painfully obvious, the ICU is called the INTENSIVE care unit for a reason. Following the surgery, as I lay in my hospital bed (at this point I just began taking ownership of the bed and calling it “my bed” instead of “the bed”), there were multiple times in which my team of medical professionals would tell my parents that it seemed like my condition was improving and then the next moment I was unable to breathe on my own. I recall trying to wake myself up intermittently and it felt as though my eyes were opening for the first time since leaving the womb, everything was blurry and I just felt confused. Even though I couldn’t really see anything each time I woke up, I could still hear what was going on around me. Nurses and doctors shuffling in and out of the room, the constant beep..beep..beep of all the machines that were keeping me alive and every now and then I could make out the shaky yet firm voice of my dad when he spoke. Each time I tried to move just a bit and strain to open my eyes I could hear my dad say, “he’s waking up, my boy is waking up”. The sound of hope I could hear in my dads voice through all of the beeping and clanking of medical instruments became the strength I needed to pull through.
Throughout this entire ordeal, and even still today, there were so many times in which I wanted to give up, and by give up, I most certainly mean stop trying to open my eyes and accept what comes next. When you’re a teenager you usually have this sickness called selfishness and every thought tends to begin and end with either: me, my or mine. So when I was lying in my hospital bed, grasping for air, feeling the sensation of pain every time a slight breeze whipped through the ice cold hospital, of course all I thought about was letting go and moving on. Did I believe it was “my time to go”? No, not at all, in that moment all I could think about was getting away from all the pain. The pain was like a horrible monster from a bedtime story, you may close the closet doors and stuff pillows under the bed but sometimes the monster wins and you end up waving the white flag and high-tailing it to mom and pops bedroom! I wasn’t thinking about death because my time on this earth was finished, but rather as a way out of what seemed like a physically painful nightmare. Even though I could not go run and hide under the blankets in my parent’s bedroom, when I heard the hope in my dads voice that day in recovery, something inside of me clicked. I realized that the feeling of hope was real; I’m not saying it pinched me in the ass and I jumped out of bed (although it could have happened that way because as part of hospital humiliation nobody can keep the back of a gown tied together). Hearing how optimistic my parents were each time my eyelids fluttered brought about a feeling of determination. Think about that – in this life we always ask for more, just a little more money, or a slightly larger house, or a faster car – but all my parents wanted was for their son to open his eyes.
The time I spent in the intensive care unit was the beginning of a new phase of my journey. After a few days, things began to settle down and everything looked a bit brighter, both medically and emotionally. I had tubes coming out of my body, I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t use the restroom on my own, my stomach muscle was in my leg, I was missing part of my hip, I had a giant scar down the right side of my body and it all hurt like hell….but I wasn’t going to quit! On the football field you can take an honest lost, if you give it all you have and you still get beat, that’s life; what isn’t acceptable is giving up and walking off the field. Just as my father and mother instilled a sense of confidence in me as a young athlete, I was ready to use that confidence on a new field, playing a new game in which the only meaningful outcome was developing a healthy quality of life. I may not have been able to speak yet due to the tube helping me breathe, but mentally I was developing my next stages to the game plan, but what I didn’t know about coaching was that sometimes your strategy can work for years, but there is always that one opponent whom seems completely unbeatable.