I’ve Endured This…

I've Endured This...

My pain has hit an all-time high. I can’t sleep, I’m struggling like a motherfucker right now to just “be”. It’s a struggle and a half, and I’ve had enough. I’m really, truly, sick and tired of this illness. In times like this, it’s harder and harder to be strong and be myself.

Is NFL’s Change Of Heart On Concussions Genuine Or Just Brand-Protection?

100% brand protection. Do a quick search on all the MLB players that have had to retire due to concussions, and then look at the very LONG list of NHL players that have lost so much of their normal ability to function due to concussions. I have a professional hockey player type history of concussions that began when I was under the age of 4. I’m now hitting double digits and doctors refuse to take me seriously and realize just how much this has affected my life. People seem to think anyone that isn’t an athlete is faking these symptoms, but it can and it does happen to people who are no longer athletes or never were athletes to begin with.

Why I’m Sick Of Hearing About “The A-Rod Scandal”: The Playing Field Is A Witch Hunt

Why I’m Sick Of Hearing About “The A-Rod Scandal”: The Playing Field Is A Witch Hunt

alex-rodriguez-picture

As a native New Yorker who is also a die-hard Yankees fan, many people have been asking me about Major League Baseball’s decision to suspend Alex Rodriquez for 211 games due to the information provided to them by the former owner(s) of Biogenesis. Initially I wasn’t going to write about this, but as things have progressively gotten nastier in the media, I have decided to do so.

When the subject initially came up and I vaguely considered writing about it, my brother & I were discussing it on an almost daily basis and since he & I were completely in sync with our feelings on the subject, I felt like it was one I could handle with relative ease.

A slightly unknown fact about me is that, in the past, I’ve worked for a baseball player, so I feel like I can speak on this subject without it being an immense issue. Please be advised that I am writing MY views and opinions and while you may share in them, you may also firmly disagree. You’re entitled to your feelings and opinions, and if you want/need to express your views, please do so on your own blog(s), don’t bombard me with hate filled rants simply because our opinions do not mesh. If you want to debate with me like a rational human being, by all means, there is a comment button. I’m very cool when it comes to discussing a veritable motley’s crew of things, but I will not tolerate rudeness. Disagree, for it is your right to do so, but be respectful.

Moving onward…

Obviously people are full of their opinions in regard to this subject, most especially people that aren’t Yankees fans, or even baseball fans for that matter, which is more than a little disturbing, and is often one of those moments when “freedom of speech” starts to get on my nerves. It is in times of this nature where I often want to start suturing people’s mouths shut and taking away their smart-phones and laptops. This is when the assholes all come out from their caves. I find I have little tolerance for it.

I’ve always been supremely fair whenever I write about things like this. Up until a few months ago, I knew very little about this in its entirety. I knew only that Alex was being accused of something serious, but I did not know if he’d truly done anything warranting more than a mere investigation, or what the true nature of it entailed. I figured the worst they’d do was hand down a suspension of 50-75 games and fine him. I was ok with that because, based on the accusations, that’s really all that was warranted. Fine him, suspend him, but for God’s sake, he is NOT an animal to be slaughtered or a person to be stoned. It’s baseball, it’s not the end of the world.

I’m still not 100% sure he did anything because the facts are not sitting in front of me to be analyzed. There are no documents here, no physical proof of a damn thing, no medical reports, no financial documents, just the things Major League Baseball is spewing and spreading to the press like a disease. The more they talk to the media and spread various things to news outlets, the more I feel like it’s a smear campaign. I’ve seen this done to another athlete before when he questioned a team doctors’ misdiagnosis of something very serious, something that nearly got him killed. Incidentally, Alex told a doctor he did not trust him because he never informed him of damage to his hip during the 2012 playoffs, an injury that was severe enough to require off-season surgery. Can you blame him?! I’d have been all over that doctor like white on rice. The treatment the previously aforementioned athlete received by “daring” to question a team’s medical staff enraged me, so maybe some of that anger will creep into this piece and if it does, so be it.

For anyone to ask him to turn over all of his medical records, a request that was supposed to go to his lawyers and was “accidentally” released to the media is another load of shit completely disrespectful and if I am not mistaken, it is a complete and utter HIPAA violation to make such a request. He doesn’t have to give up his rights, tell you his life story, or have any more of his life dragged through the mud to appease anyone. 

Despite all kinds of drugs being wide-spread across every professional sport, and anyone scoffing at that statement is either lying to themselves or has been lied to, I see no visible evidence that he has been on performance enhancers during his tenure as a Yankee. He’d be playing a much better game all around if he were, and that’s a very simple fact. If you’re taking drugs that are meant to enhance your natural athletic abilities, then you’re not constantly missing fielding opportunities or constantly striking out. In my family, a missed fielding opportunity is called “an Alex Rodriquez”, I kid you not. There were kids in the Little League World Series playing better third base than I’ve seen from him in years. Should we drug test them too?

The suspension itself is grossly excessive. As a first time offender who openly admitted to taking performance enhancing drugs while he played for the Texas Rangers, I feel like this whole thing is coming ten years too late. You didn’t have a league drug policy back then, but seriously, that’s your big excuse?! If you were going to suspend him, shouldn’t you have done it when he was testing positive repeatedly for PED’s in 2003, policy or no policy?! Because that makes sense, this however just seems like a witch hunt, and that’s exactly what it is. Alex is the biggest name in baseball on the list of players linked to Biogenesis and performance enhancing drugs right now. Trying to make a public example out of him, and accusing him of naming all the other players currently on suspension, is a load of shit. How is he personally responsible for all of their poor decision making along with, maybe, his own?

He has openly stated that he has not used anything since 2003, and that when he did, it was based on pressure to perform due to the $250 million dollar contract the Rangers bestowed upon him, along with all their hopes and dreams of winning a ring. If Alex was batting above his shoe size right now, or above average for him, I’d say they need to be testing him every day and twice on Sunday, but he’s not. If anything, his performance over the past seven years has done nothing, but rapidly decline. I think that has more to do with age and the burning out of the body than anything else. Compare him to other players of his caliber that are in the same age bracket, and there are very few of them that have not taken PED’s at one time or another (whether they will admit to it or not, and the temptation to do so is always there. I’m not saying every single great player in any sport is on such drugs.), and fewer that are playing like they’re 25 when they’re pushing 40.

I both understand and find myself lacking respect for the Yankees organization for the way they have handled the situation publicly. You’re paying this man an outrageous sum of money to play for you, yet the second a hint of a scandal comes out, you’re jumping ship, openly discussing trading him, there’s media speculation (clearly SOMEONE is talking to these people!) that they will try terminating his contract so they can save money on the luxury tax fine the league places on them for being over the salary cap each year (which I am sure is more than made up for in ticket sales and merchandising), and just plain being snide and incredibly disrespectful in the handling of all of this.

Playing Devil’s Advocate for a second, if the roles were reversed and it was Derek Jeter being accused of this, the entire organization would be up in arms. They’d defend him to the death, or they’d cut him and let him bleed on the field. That’s how it works. You may be a part of a team, but at the end of each day, you are still expendable. It’s a business. Even if it means they have to find five people to “replace” you, they will all sleep like babies regardless. They really don’t care how it looks, sounds, or how it affects your reputation. They will send you out like a lamb to slaughter. I’ve always found it incredibly disgusting.

Playing in New York is very different from playing in Tampa, St. Louis, or Kansas City. While most major cities are behind their sports clubs with a ferocious passion, New York fans are supportive, passionate, and, at times, slightly rabid. I can’t tell you how many times I have personally threatened to rip a pitcher’s arm off and beat him with it for screwing up a game. In the same vein, if the team had been hitting, maybe it wouldn’t have looked like such a major fuck-up on his part, whoever “he” may have been at the time. I love David Cone, but when it was time for him to retire, I was sad to see such a brilliant pitcher lose his arm to the extent that he did. However, I didn’t want him out there risking further injury either. I respected his decision. If ever he was on a performance enhancing substance, you would not have been able to tell because he was both consistent and inconsistent in his outings. The same can be said for so many players in so many different sports. No one is perfect every single time and no one wins every single time either.

On a whole, I think baseball players are placed under incredibly heavy microscopes that athletes in other sports aren’t placed under. I’m not saying that is always the case, but in many respects, it absolutely is. There is always going to be some younger ace that they can sign for less money until they have to really start paying up. Considering that the average MLB salary was $480,000 just last year, compared to what Alex makes, it’s an immense payroll savings for the Yankees to have five players making half a million dollars, as opposed to what Alex makes on a seasonal basis. Do the math. To the Yankees it’s “more money, more problems”. Until there’s solid proof in front of all of us, not just media bullshit, judge not lest ye be judged.

For the record, I am not saying it is right to take drugs of any kind. I’ve never taken drugs in my life. I am a former athlete, I have worked for more than one professional athlete, and I’m 100% against them in all forms. When you’re in the public eye especially, you have to be careful in this day and age of cell phone cameras and people recording conversations and video that they have no business recording. You end up being treated as public property, which is unacceptable, but apparently this country doesn’t have a lot of laws to protect you, which i find disgusting.

If you’re in the public eye, have the common sense to keep your nose clean. No drugs, no drunken bar fights, no sex tapes, don’t fucking cheat on your husband/wife/partner, no beating your husband/wife/partner/children, no nude photos “accidentally” leaking onto the Internet, and for God’s sake, do NOT be a douche-bag when you’re being interviewed. Be direct, be terse if you must, but don’t be a blatant asshole because it really makes you look like someone people want to steer clear of, not support and cheer for. No one wants to pay hard-earned money for their children to cheer on a complete and utter jackass. I’ve seen how some baseball players act when they think no one is paying attention. Some of the batting practice and warm-up behavior is disgusting beyond words. I will never forget my personal reaction to a former player’s behavior towards his own hometown fans in Philly. I wanted to throw a bat at him. I won’t name name’s, even though I really want to, but I can say that I lost every ounce of respect I had for him in how he was treating kids that merely wanted a wave or a ball thrown their way. The look on my face said it all, and after that incident, I just couldn’t look at him as a decent person any longer. You’re standing around doing nothing, the least you can do is brighten a child’s day with a wave in their direction or by signing a few autographs. It’s what you’re supposed to be doing as a person placed in the position of role model, be an adult about it.

If you’re an athlete, know that PED’s break your body down so badly that it is almost guaranteed that you will die young. It will destroy your bones, enlarge your heart, and cause other problems as you get older. You may feel like a God in the moment, but you will live with severe regrets the second you are no longer in your sport of choice. If and when you ever test positive for said substance, or you’re considering “trying something out to help give you an edge”, just think of Lance Armstrong. People adored, respected, and revered this man until the blood doping scandal was a fact he admitted to. He was then stripped of all the accomplishments he’d achieved, and publicly humiliated his sport, family, friends, and fans. That is not something anyone should aspire to.

I know this might come off sounding like I’m the biggest Alex Rodriquez fan (I refuse to call a grown man A-Rod) and/or supporter, but the truth is, it’s been years since I’ve truly liked him. However, I noticed a shift during Sunday Night Baseball a few weeks ago when the Boston Red Sox pitcher for that evening’s game (whose name escapes me, because he was completely unmemorable, but clearly a dick. I refuse to look it up and mention him by name because he’s an undeserving dirt-bag. I am glad to hear he was suspended for what he did.) had the sheer gall to hit Alex during the 4th pitch of the 2nd inning. Throwing the ball behind his leg was enough with the first pitch, backing him off the plate was fine, but hitting him in the ribs? Not fucking cool!! Alex was so calm, collected, and reserved, which made me proud of him, but I just about lunged off my couch, hostility raging, as if he’d just personally harmed my brother. I said some pretty vile things that night, all of which I own (and won’t repeat here). When Alex hit that home run in the 6th inning, it was basically him pissing on the pitcher’s mound at Fenway Park, and I was proud & thrilled. That’s when i realized that I do indeed support him.

All this crap is going down and it continues to spread daily like wildfire, but I’m going to choose to remember Alex when he first started playing, because he was a sweet kid then and even though he’s clearly got some questionable morals and ethics, that’s really none of my business. I am not married to him, I do not share children with him, and I don’t have to live with him. How he plays the game, represents his team, and treats his fans? That matters. If he’s guilty, he’s going to have to suck it up and serve his time, though I hope for a reduced suspension. If he’s found not guilty of all these accusations, I don’t ever want to hear anyone utter a bad thing about him unless he goes out and shoots animals and small children, ok?

For those of you that want to see the man hung out to dry, ask yourself if you’d want your child treated that way before you start throwing stones.

alex-rodriguez-peds-4c5c99448fe90587

I’m going to support Alex, whether he is guilty or not. If he is guilty, the only person he harmed is himself. He hasn’t harmed baseball or affected the future of the game, and for anyone to say that is just plain ridiculous. There will always be drugs in professional sports. Anyone who denies that is in for a seriously rude awakening. No sport is 100% drug free. If he’s not guilty, I want every player that’s been Tweeting in judgement of him (and a long line of comedians who have been using him as their public punching bag) to be lined up to kiss his ass.

If this had never been made public, no one would be psycho-analyzing his every move, every word, his on-field performance, his injuries, his off-field behavior, or anything else. He would simply be the third baseman of the New York Yankees, one of the most hated and beloved franchises in all of sports. Criticize him all you want, he’s made his money, he has a World Series ring, and he earned every single Gold Glove at shortstop. He’s always been a talented player. If ever that was enhanced by PED’s, so be it. Because if ever it was, he won’t be the first and he certainly won’t be the last.

Sorry For The Silence

I know I’ve been pretty silent these last few weeks. For one, I haven’t had a whole lot to say. I’m very in my own head right now. Sometime Thursday night into Friday morning, I did something to my neck and aggravated my neck and shoulders. I thought icing it up and getting some rest would help, I went out of my way Friday and today to avoid excessive stress, but it has progressively gotten worse, so I am strongly considering another ER visit, this time to a different hospital, because I’m afraid that partial paralysis is setting in from the neck up. The hospital I went to previously doesn’t have the necessary equipment (an ER with no MRI machine?! REALLY?! I’ve NEVER heard of that before, not ever.), which is extremely odd to me, but hey, that’s probably why I never have to spend time in their waiting room for more than three minutes! I can turn my body if you’re talking to me, but I can’t turn my neck because of the excruciating pain and the simple fact that it jerks itself back with a giant NO. The pain medicine isn’t working, and I don’t want to risk taking something that could make me sick again, so if this is still the same, off I go. At the very least, maybe they’ll be able to tell me what’s wrong since no one else has had any answers for me in the past three years. Plus, a prescription for muscle relaxers right now would seriously be my saving grace. You know things are bad when muscle relaxers are really the only thing that help you heal. I have an allergy, so I can’t take anti-inflammatory meds, and like I said, my neck is not responding to the pain meds. I don’t want this to get worse, obviously, but I think a stupid part of me is expecting it to heal a little on its own with lower stress and rest. The truth is, I’m tired of going through this shit all alone. It’s hard to psych yourself up for medical help when you have no idea what the end result will be, and how you’ll be able to handle it afterward.

In the meantime, I’m going to apply some arnica and try going to bed. I could do worse.

The Pain Game

The Pain Game: Trying To Stay Sane & Keep Yourself From Exploding

 

I don’t find anything even remotely amusing about pain. I couldn’t be any more unamused than I am right now. By pain I don’t mean a paper cut or your cat scratching you, I mean mind-numbing, nausea inducing pain. Suffering from a spinal injury, I am constantly being told that my injury is inoperable. That’s fine, because I’d never agree to surgery. I saw what it did to people I loved, and I continue to hear horror stories, which pretty much gives me a number in my head that the success rate for such operations is nowhere near as successful as surgeons profess. None of these “it will fix the problem” surgeries improved their quality of life or range of motion. If anything, it deprived them of a more complete life, but I understand that when you’re in pain and suffering, all you want to do is find a way to alleviate your suffering.

Last weekend (Saturday morning) I reached a very critical point in my own pain levels and decided to take a medication that is being used off label for Chronic Pain. That was my first mistake, because for the first time in a long time, I took the “Very high success rate for Chronic Pain sufferers.” statement and the numbers at face value. I didn’t look too deeply into the medication until it was already in my system, and by then it wasn’t like I could reverse it because it’s a time release drug with an extremely long half-life, one of the longest I’ve ever seen in any drug, be it for pain or not. For the record, I’m usually very on the ball about this sort of thing to avoid problems and potential allergies. The pain was just so bad, and I was irrational in my attempt to rid myself of it and be able to function. Instead, I was pretty much bed ridden for over a day and a half, in between dealing with some pretty vile side effects. Because I’d only heard ½ of the prescription instructions, and no one had ever told me to not drink water before and after taking it, the medication released into my system much too quickly. Less than 30 minutes after taking it, I damn near threw up on my laptop before returning to my bed to pass out for a few hours. After several trips to throw up and return to a passed out/asleep phase, I woke up at one point and realized I was completely pain free. I did not hurt at all from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. My muscles, which had been killing me earlier that day, my spinal injury which had been screaming for months on end, was completely silent. No migraines, no muscle pain, no physical pain, but a complete inability to eat or keep fluids down (big problem, since this medication makes me thirstier than anything else I’ve ever been on. Water does NOT aid nausea though, so I had to switch over to iced tea at some point. Unfortunately I couldn’t keep that down either. Ginger ale wouldn’t stay down, fluids were becoming pretty hopeless.). As it slowly started to trickle out of my system, I was finally able to eat and drink without problem, but I was still really concerned and waited until I thought I’d pass out from hunger before I allowed myself to eat. I did not want to endure any more “fly out of the room” moments to puke up my guts. It’s not something I’d like to relive anytime soon.

By Sunday night though, the pain had become unbelievable. I was fine and completely pain free, and the next thing I know, my lower back was completely shot. It felt as if I’d been doing heavy lifting for weeks without a break, lots of bending, digging ditches, you get the drift. The pain was so bad I could not sit, stand, and could barely walk. There was no relief in sight. My mind was screaming “partial paralysis” at me in a very bad way. I used a topical roll-on product easily found at Walmart called Max-Freeze. In the past, this product has worked for me and worked quickly. I’d apply it, lay down, and by the time I woke up the pain would be gone, or at the very least manageable. The problem this time around is that I couldn’t even feel the product working, because even though I know I applied it directly to the source of the pain, I couldn’t feel it activate on my skin. I panicked a bit and after a while, resorted to ice packs. I probably should have made my ice packs hot, but because of the Max-Freeze I chose not to. Eventually I was able to get in my bed, some of the medicine still coursing through my system, and I was able to fall asleep, but Monday morning I was still in pain, and still experiencing that “What the hell did I do to my lower back?!” moment. My brother asked if I had tried doing anything out of the ordinary while on the new pain medicine and I said “I could barely walk from the bathroom to the bedroom. Do you think I was lifting weights at the gym, or doing something that I already know would aggravate my lower back?! What damage do you think I did in a less than ten foot radius?” I probably sounded insane, especially with the slurred speech and sudden whiny tone to my voice. I tried really hard to hold solid in my belief that my lower back would eventually loosen up and I’d be fine, that maybe I’d twisted wrong or caught an air conditioning chill. With Fibromyalgia, you simply never know.

It is now Friday and I can sit, which is a huge bonus. There’s still some pain, but I’ve got other pain to focus on too. Pain in my head (the migraine that just won’t quit. I’ve had it for two days. It’s trying to break me. I’m determined to break it first,), pain from wisdom teeth (Yes, I still have both of mine. I never saw the need to have them removed. They shift and cause some pain a dozen or so times a year, but outside of that, they do not affect me much. Plus, I am not a big fan of oral surgeons. They creep me out. They simply take way too much joy in pulling teeth and ripping your mouth open. Some people are fine to go and leave with pain medicine, but I’m not one of them. If something has to be done, they’d better bring in the anesthesia because I really don’t feel the need to see, hear, or feel what’s going on.), pain in my spine, and that emotional pain we all know called depression.

In my attempt to rid myself of pain, I ended up wasting a week of my life. That’s extremely upsetting to me. Life is short, pain makes it feel so much shorter, and I want to live. It’s hard to live when you can’t sleep, or you sleep, but you sleep too much. It’s hard to live when your body is geared up for every twinge that hits you and becomes the next great battle. And outside of the pain you experiences physically, you still have a real life. Bills to pay, things that need to be done, fixed, etc. Pain makes you feel like your life is a disaster. When you feel this crappy, faking a smile, pretending you’re fine, and lying to yourself to get through the next hour is just plain unacceptable to me. If I don’t feel good, I say so. Not because I want someone’s attention, a response, sympathy, pity, or anything else, but because it’s the truth and I refuse to feel ashamed because I suffer from more than one form of Chronic Pain. People usually say “I’m sorry you don’t feel good.” or “I’m sorry you’re in so much pain.” and my response is always the same. “Did you cause this pain? If not, don’t apologize for it. It is what it is.” I am a firm believer that I probably take on pain for those not strong enough to handle it, but honestly, I’ve had enough. I’d like to check out of my life for the next ten years, pain free, and do what I want to do. I want to live, I want to get up and go, I don’t want to deal with stress, anxiety, or all the other things that come along with the pain. I don’t want a half-life.

Am I being a kvetch? No, I’m being honest. The “pain game” is not a game I want to play. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone (except maybe Hitler, but honestly, Chronic Pain is too good for him.). I appreciate having a voice and a forum where I can say “I’ve had enough.” and no one judges me for my honesty, but I’d also like to use that voice and that forum to discuss happier, more successful things. I’d like to be able to say that I can get out of bed and feel good each day, or simply that I can get out of bed. I’d like to say “I laughed ‘til it hurt.”, but not because the pain is unbearable. Unfortunately, the pain IS unbearable, I’ve had enough, and I’d like a new alternative that doesn’t kick my ass and torment me. Doctors and scientists are making all kinds of advancements, yet they claim they know too little about the brain to help Chronic Pain sufferers. That’s bullshit to me. If one in every three people that sufferers from some form of Chronic Pain got a grant and became a doctor or a scientist, I guarantee we’d have better medicine and eventually, a cure. I’d like better medicine and a cure in my lifetime, and I’m sure everyone else that suffers would too.

I’m sick of all this crap. It’s time for a change.

Storms

“Storms come, and are so personal, they seem to know your address and have the key to your house.” -Reverend Jesse Jackson
 
*I never thought I’d find a quote like this, but I’d be hard-pressed to deny this is the truth.*

Concussion Number “I’ve Lost Count”!

My original blog for today will be postponed by a day or so while I recover from a concussion (the true recovery will take much longer, but right now my head is increasingly more painful than it was a few hours ago.). It was 100% my fault. Don’t ask me why I think I can walk around in the dark and not hit anything, because I always hit something. Usually it’s my leg or my knee on the edge or the foot of the bed, leaving behind all kinds of attractive bruises. Late last night, it ended up being the corner of the top of my armoire meeting the left side of my head in a very scary way. I didn’t scream because it was late and I didn’t want to wake my neighbors, but I feel so much more stupid about it today, because as the day has progressed, so too has the pain.

Thus, I’m relaxing on the couch, catching up on some things I haven’t had the time or the patience to watch, and icing my head. Sounds thrilling, I know. Pretty soon I’ll have to walk around the house in a glammed up hockey helmet.

Enjoy your evening everyone, and watch out for your furniture, you never know when it may attack!

P.S. Happy Beltane to my fellow Wiccans!