Hall of Fame As Seen By An Ex-Little Leager

So, I’ve been sitting on this draft for a while now. I initially was really bothered by these ridiculous decisions. The start of the MLB season seems a good time to revisit, give my ‘expert’ analysis, and post.

There has been a lot of talk the last twenty-four hours (January 26, 2021) in regards to this years non-induction “ceremony”. Who got it stuck to?… names like Clemens, Bonds, Schilling, Sosa, Pettitte, Manny… Joined the Company of McGuire, Pete Rose..

What does my opinion mean and what qualifies me to cast judgement on the situation? I played little league baseball on the west-side of Binghamton, played as a middle-schooler, and at the varsity level. I spent many of those years pretending I was some of these major leaguers… Hall of Famer or not. I was hitting the grand slams and striking out the side in most of the World Series I had seen, and some that I hadn’t! I think this might qualify for opinion casting.

I have put a lot of thought into thinking of why another handful of “field dominators” were again shown no respect by a few, most of whom cannot THROW a ball, let alone influence who should and shouldn’t represent historical rememberances, timelessly saved in the small, hidden town in Upstate New York.

Pete Rose’s situation is different but possibly even registering more on the lunacy meter than the others. Betting on baseball while being a manager of an MLB club. Understandable we do not want people betting on other teams and purposely throwing the game. One problem… Rose always bet on his team TO WIN!!! WTH..??? Now on to the main chunk of guys that drew millions upon millions to baseball games, games that gave these voting sport ashes and journalists their jobs. PEDs (performance enhancing drugs)… increased sports ability, often in the arena of Home Runs. Home Runs and Home Runs races were all people talked about. It was part of the game; it was obvious and everyone knew it.

My solution… if they want these guys locked out… put these deserving gamers into Cooperstown, lock the Hall to future inductions and create the all-new…

PARTICIPATION HALL!!!

Good luck with that. Put them in the Hall, change the voters if need be.

Back from my hiatus…

A break, much longer than I anticipated…. two different factors but now I hope to be moving in a positive direction.

Let’s call it an incident— I still believe the wall moved on me; that we’ll never know. As I was rushing to get to Target and BJs to grab my curbside groceries, I was making one quick pitstop at the bathroom. It was then I momentarily glanced back at a voice from the other side of the room. As I simultaneously leaned, stepped, and reached for the doorframe, it quickly evaded my touch—maybe it feared I had dirty hands—anyway, I had a tailwind of momentum that I truly felt should have broke that floor tile… with my left cheek. Oops, my recently fair safety record was now marred once again. Luckily, no broken bones, just a lacrosse ball sized lump that slowly morphed into this enlarged dark mask. I was Yin and Yan by morning! Next couple weeks we a bit of a blur… a slow blur…would that make it a smudge? Been two months, still purple at point of impact, with a small remaining dent. However, I believe my marbles are back to my semblance of normal.

I had throughout this period, thought of journaling but the eyes said different. Not long thereafter I felt it was looking safe enough to get my Johnson & Johnson one-shot vaccine. April 6, 2021… after having watch a couple months of relatively safe distribution I went and rolled up my sleeve, literally. Got mine at around 11:00 a.m., home by noon, and asleep on the couch by 4:00 p.m. It felt as though every ache and pain that I normally had was amplified… that was the target of the vaccine apparently. It flowed and ebbed over the next few days but by Saturday things were pretty normal… so here I am… back… hopefully some coherency…

They walk with such ease… even when they don’t

It’s been thirty-years and reminded, just how effortless the act of walking, running, stammering drunk, across the grass and down a sidewalk, and sometimes navigating the curb-cut.

Apparently the Cerebellum is an integral piece of the balance puzzle.

As I was pulling off Graham Road onto Triphammer my attention was drawn to a young guy in workout attire, wearing a backpack and headphones, nonchalantly walk-skipping along the sidewalk. Adjusting his phone, shaking his hair out of his face, then adjusting a shoe… not really breaking his rhythm one bit.

It was at this point I had a ‘journal cue’— a response by my subconscious brought on by Certain acts or sites that make something in my head ‘click’, alerting me that it is something I must further explore. Healing, up-and-out, however you view rehab or recovery… maybe is accomplished by understanding or accepting these cues.

Anyhow, getting back to the amazing coordination between the afferent and efferent pathways of the nervous system. Even as I watch what many consider a’debilitated’ body, it’s still one heck of an amazing ‘thing’.

I know, people be like, ‘it’s normal… ‘

I’ll give you my end of things, which I’m well aware is much better than many… but is why I’m fascinated by locomotion. It’s nighttime and I’m standing in the center of the room— no furniture to guide my balance, so I’m fully focused. Knees slightly bent, weight more forward than back (reference backward balance), centered— weight not beyond my lateral stability zone. I’m good! I hear the rain on the windows, a rumble of thunder, a few flashes of lightning, and a sudden big… BOOM! If I manage to remain upright from the startle I’m likely in trouble because the power went and there is no visual cue to keep me centered and upright. Thoughts race, the head spins a bit, knees begin to bend in an attempt to lower the body’s center of gravity. Those darn ears tones aren’t working, no visual horizon, arms go out… reaching for any stability, or maybe seeking balance. It isn’t more than a second or two, and as the weight shifts to my dominant right leg, it lowers to the floor— like performing a negative repetition, very slow and protectively deliberate.

So… there I am, lying on the floor in the dark, because once I’m down, extensor tone kicks in…

That is why that skipping dude and that 95 year-old foot shuffling slow guy steal my attention. Again, I’m in no way speaking or thinking with envy… hard to reduce these thoughts one idea… besides amazed..

The Treadmill’s Ass-kicking

So… as many of you know, I recently got a new treadmill to have in the house. I an effort to improve my health—decrease my blood pressure and resting heart rate— and get stronger so that I can get myself off the floor again, something I’ve been struggling with for the past year.

It was this past Sunday. Sue took the kids up tubing at Greek Peak ski resort, while I stayed home prepping for Championship Weekend. It was a day that was zero degrees and a dusting of snow. I decided to not brave the elements, hopping on the treadmill for a nice, moderately, pregame-watching pace.

This seemed a good idea, as I’d told Sue that I’d not go do work in the garage since it was so cold and nobody else was home to assist if I got myself in trouble… not that I’ve ever found myself on the floor, or ground, or gravel drive.

Now some of you may not find this as amusing as I now do, however, those that know me, know that this is SO me…

I headed to the lower landing to hop on my barely broken-in NordicTrack treadmill. iPhone in hand, so that I could stream pregame for the Buccaneers, I climbed onto the treadmill , feet straddling the belt. ‘Manual Start’… pressed… toggled down the speed to 0.8 mph for my three-minute warmup… ready to ramp it up to 1.0/1.2 mph. At my most precise recollection, I cannot remember more than a minute or two passing when I attempted to toggle the display. Apparently I bumped something… the whir of the belt got louder and faster. As I reached down to the minus button, I believe I bumped it a ‘beep’ faster… now reading 10.5… oh my…

Before I knew it, I was arm extended… hanging on with my right arm, body fully extended, dragging on the belt. As I held on, losing layers of skin on the knees, it was like a moment from ‘The Matrix’… I remember looking around, processing my situation, with a multitude of thoughts and options scrolling. This is where I wish I had a video on… I could have definitely gone viral with this clip. It was only a quick second or two, but the moment that I let go of the handle I rolled to my back, was spun around at least once, and spit off the back… into the Spinning bike.

So, here I lay… between the running treadmill—because I didn’t connect to the safety switch—and the bike, with no phone (it’s up on the console), no fall-detection watch (that was charging), and the family was on the ski slopes. At this point I realized my work over the last month was paying off.. getting to my hands and knees, I made my way to my feet, getting my bearings back.

Upon realization that all was pretty okay, I hopped on the treadmill to knock out an extra 15-minutes before kickoff. All in all, when retelling the story, it sure seemed funny… now.

Interpretation is 110 percent…

From the first moment of cognition… to present day… I stil wonder, ‘one dang bone, one bone is all that broke that night of November 24. How, in the name of all that’s holy, could ONE BONE do that?” Turns out to be more than that; I guess everything EXCEPT that.

My initial thought process left me thinking that I was extremely unlucky, breaking what I broke, while at the same time also knowing, somehow, that my communicative blinking—one blink meant yes and two meant no— allowed for cognitive understanding. The problem, not the broken Odontoid Process, but the traumatic brain injury TBI.

What’s an Odontoid Process? It’s an upward extension of the second cervical vertebrae (neck bone). It protrudes up through cervical number one (C1) and allows for head rotation. Upon my impact, my spine was driven up into my brainstem, causing my TBI, thereby snapping the Odontoid Process. Sounds pretty bad… doesn’t it?

Apparently the majority of affliction came in the bruising of the Cerebellum (the hind brain) and subsequent filling of all four ventricles with a mix of red blood cells and plasma.

I’ve always realized how fortunate I am, especially with every gift I’ve been blessed with since injury. Since i have been researching the topic and heard what others are experiencing and lived through, I KNOW I’m lucky as hell! For those of you who don’t know, a TBI comes in as many flavors as there are people who have them. The number of symptoms are numerous and combinations are unique, and, can change in seemingly a moment’s notice.

When I was thinking the other day, I paralleled a TBI to one of those new medications that nobody really understands. Here’s the extensive list of the side, effects, here are the bad ones, and, oh yeah… anything is not really outside the realm of possibility. This leads me to how lucky I am with my checklist. Yeah, I’ve got some things going on, but, when I’m reading about other’s obstacles or rehabilitative medicine, I’m feeling very FORTUNATE for my days and hoping others can get there as well.

Forgot to indicate… all of this came about after reading detailed doctors notes post accident, covering the first few months of injury and recovery. Based on what I have read and envisioned, I would think I’d be much more affected than I have been. 🌴

It takes a special woman… maybe she’s just crazy?!

So, I was originally going to call this post “broken crap”. My initial intent was to write about all the things that have been broken or damaged as a result of… ME. This could eventually spin off into a page of its own, based on my damages and those people, both family and friends, that have to deal with us—the damages, the inconveniences, and the drama.

I will be expanding upon this as the week goes…

Canes and walkers were one of the first things I can recollect bending and breaking. As I pushed the limits of stability, while leaving the sporting goods section of Horton Hardware, I remember tripping on the edging of carpet that was creeping up at the corners. After making it back to my feet, I realized that my only cane had a nice bend to it. Because the twenty-five dollar replacement was beyond what SSI could support at the time, I ambulated with a ‘fancy’ bowed, bronze-colored cane. It may have the same one that I fell through the ice with, but that’s a separate story. Over the years to come there have been several. One of the last I recollect was at Friends’Academy, Dartmouth, MA.

my dog Dutchess, right front fender of the minivan, toilet paper holder, cognac glass, trash can…

Speak to me… not about me

Have you ever, or seen someone speak to another as they are your ‘representative’ or worse yet talk about you, assuming that you cannot hear or are not in the capacity to understand? I believe I have experienced on three separate levels or platforms. In the coming writing I will denote examples and thoughts there.

One of my first recollections, post accident, was the many family, friends, and clergy that rushed to my bedside. At this point I had not opened my eyes, but somehow took it all in. My cousin at my side telling me when I got out of there we’d have another party and play some football, and telling me his brother was stopping to grab me a poster to hang on the ceiling… since that would be my view for a while. My friend, who’s church we played pickup basketball at, showing up with his father-in-law, who was a minister to pray at my side. Every morning my neurosurgeon telling me where I was and what had happened, and his diagnosis and prognostication of my future, my life… or lack thereof. Everything he would inform my mother of, I would take in.

This next one is a tough one since I lack in my psychology education. On several occasions over my years, whether it’s doctors, nurses, or acquaintances of family or friends. The typical approach would be them asking whoever was with me, what happened to me. The best way I found to remedy this is to have ‘my person’ look to me and wait for me to personally address them. Whether it’s just a simple ice_breaker or a demonstration that I understood the situation that I was in.

The treadmill… lifesaver

In an effort to keep the legs moving and physiologic health we recently purchased a treadmill. It is a bit humbling… my initial treadmill work post-accident consisted of a speed of 0.5 mph with varying durations. Fresh out of the hospital and less physically worn, I believe I am maybe a hint better. The years in between I managed to work up to multiple 5k walks, the fastest of which may have taken about 2:40:00. The maiden voyages on the new belt have put me around a 77:00 mile… I believe goal one should be getting under 70 minutes, followed by a mile non-stop. I have heard that other conditions such as polio begin to experience complications at the 30-50 year range post-injury. Not sure brain and spinal cord have enough historical data. My intention is to hold off any of those issues plus delay or reverse any ataxic changes that have occurred or been placed on gods timeline of Rich. Please note, my intention is never to whine or complain but just inform, share, or gain some knowledge, either from others or my own introspection. That’s all for now…

Hell on wheel… or wheelCHAIRS

A few months of feeling locked-up can do different things to people. For myself, Jason, and Bob it created an urge to get our freedom back…even if it only meant a trip off hospital grounds to the adjacent Wegman’s supermarket.

The three of us signed ourselves out at the nurses station and headed for the elevator. All of this is different than you’d initially picture. When the elevator door opened I hurried in the door and Jason would block the door from closing. Because I was the member of out gang that could stand a little and extend, I was officially the button pusher. As the doors opened at the first floor we headed for the main door, and the inviting parking lot. Beyond the parking lot was a decently busy two-lane road. Wegman’s was just across the road and up a pretty steep hill which was part of the parking lot.

As always, I preferred to wheel myself up the hill…an ordeal which I imagine took me 20-minutes. Twenty-minutes of only quarter turns of my wheel chair tires. My first victory…reaching the “summit.” Keep in mind, three dudes in wheel chairs, each with a full halo bolted into their skulls, some by four bolts and some by five.

As the posse approached Wegman’s it must have been quite a site. Ever see the movie “Wild Hogs?” Out for a joyride. I don’t believe that we bought anything that day… probably spent forty fun-minutes in the store. Freedom and un-supervision. I probably should mention also, that a PT student that was volunteering tagged along with us, invisibly. Not sure if he just wanted to witness this, or save us in a time of need.

Eventually, we made our way back to and out the power sliding doors… this is where it got a bit hairy. As the lot slowly took us to the left, we stopped at the crest of the hill. The three of us, sitting in our chairs, contemplating our descent. Bob slowly inching his way, never losing contact with his wheels, ensuring nice, controlled, safe return to the road that awaited us below. This was the moment that I gave a few pushes on the wheels and entered a tuck position.

The chair quickly came up to speed, bordering the edge of out-of-control. Wind blowing my head, wheels bouncing, wheels turning too fast to stop. The friction burned my finger tips. Thank goodness for the bike gloves and my quick reaction… patting the edges of the tire with my padded palms. With the intern running behind me, trying to catch up, I managed to slow as The hill flattened out and the perpendicular road approached, quickly.

The mini holiday ended in rather uneventful fashion. We crossed safely, managed the elevator, and rolled into view of the nurses station. When asked if we left hospital grounds… like a couple kids we said… “uh, no.” That was a good day