Please Do As I Say, Not As I’ve Done

As we try and go through our daily grind and stay ahead of the upkeep on home, auto and medical expenses, we sometimes find ourselves feeling kind of invincible and sometimes take personal risks with our own physical and mental health, because our plates are full and our schedules are overflowing, or maybe we feel the expense of being checked out would take away from other family members, or strain our budgets.

Many times when we experience pain or discomfort, we tend to talk ourselves into believing that it will pass and that soon, we will be feeling better, and sometimes it does happen that way. Maybe we think that way because my generation grew up where if you fell down and hurt yourself, we were told that we were okay and just to get up, dust ourselves off and we’ll be fine. Maybe it is out of fear of what might be happening, and we start feeling our invincibility is fading, and maybe it’s because we live by the thought that, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” I could also be that we just feel we have too much to do and stopping or being delayed by some type of malady may take us “out of the game” that we don’t want to be taken from if the diagnosis isn’t positive.

I felt that way many times, and still have some of those feelings when it comes to doing something about a pain, a lingering ache, or constant feeling of discomfort. A couple times, I literally feel that I dodged a bullet.

For many years, my attitude of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” kept me from making regular appointments with my doctor, in fact, when my doctor of many years ago left and another physician took over his clients, and was in practice here for a long period of time, I was on his list of patients, but never even met him in his duration as a doctor in the area.

Back in 2013, my brother was having some symptoms that resulted in his having to have six by-passes at Strong Hospital in Rochester. He told me the symptoms he had before he had to go in for his surgery. Fortunately, I had been very lucky not to have had any heart problems despite a family history of heart issues including both my parents, but, so far, so good.

About a year, maybe a little less, after my brother’s heart surgery, I began having some problems which included, prolonged heartburn, a constant heaviness in my chest, and some shortness of breath when I ascended a flight of stairs. I chose to look at the heartburn symptom, attribute it to having supported numerous area spaghetti dinners over the preceding three weeks and kept telling myself to chew down a handful of Tums from time to time and it would go away. Time went on and a couple days after my latest spaghetti dinner experience, the heaviness remained and I asked Sally to take me to the hospital where a catheterization showed I had one artery, about 95 percent blocked in two places, resembling a hose kinked in two places, according to the doctor, and another artery near about ninety percent blocked as well. I was flown to Erie where I was lucky to only have had to have stents implanted, and I was home the next day and back to subbing two days after that. Did I say I was lucky? I was very lucky!

After rehab, I was back a hundred percent, coaching, umpiring, subbing, and doing whatever I wanted to do. I changed my eating habits, and began visiting my GP, my Cardiologist and a Urologist (kidney stone issue) regularly, and lecturing my children to do as I say, not as I did, and visit their doctors regularly as well.

I was feeling so good that in 2017, when I was asked to return to Interscholastic Coaching and come back to coach the Girls Softball team at Falconer Central School, I readily accepted. It was great being back in the dugout and I could do almost everything I did before, except throw a ball. My shoulder was experiencing discomfort and at times, deadness, which prevented me from throwing a ball overhand. I did have it checked out and was diagnosed with some arthritis in the shoulder. I received a shot in the shoulder and amazingly, the discomfort and deadness left me and I could (and still can) throw, maybe not with the velocity that I could before, but discomfort free nonetheless.

So I had learned my lesson about getting things looked at when they were bothering me. But then I had a mental relapse.

I have documented my story in this forum about my falling at the first 2018 softball practice and hitting by head on the gym floor with considerable force. It was the first day of practice, and I didn’t want to miss time, so I sat on the floor (never losing consciousness) for a few minutes, then self-diagnosed myself as being okay, so I got up, dusted myself off and we went on to the next scheduled drill at practice.

A side note … if it happened to any of my players, that they suffered any type of hit to the head, or a fall where the head was involved, or a sore wrist occurred, or a severely turned ankle happened, or anything that could result in something serious now or later on, I would have pulled them out, filled out an accident report, notified parents, if needed, and waited to receive clearance before I allowed that player to resume practice and team activities. But, I, knowing the protocol to follow with our athletes, didn’t follow that protocol for myself. I know the warning signs of concussions, and the only one I felt was the constant headache. Some days it was more intense than others. I continued to do the things at practice I had done before and things were going well, until one day, nearly two months after my fall, I experienced almost stroke-like problems with my right leg, and I had bouts with “zoning” in and out when I was doing something that needed my concentration.

Fortunately, and very luckily, I was able to recover without surgery and my leg problem and disorientation have disappeared and I am back to doing what I was before, feeling appreciative and grateful that things worked out positively for me.

The lesson for today, though (and i hope my children and grandchildren learn from my experiences) is to listen to your body when things first happen. It is to have things checked out regularly whether you feel something or not. Things turned out okay, not once, but twice, for me, and again, I know how fortunate I have been, and though it took this stubborn old(er) man a couple of times to get the message, I think I got it this time. I am urging everyone to NOT wait until it might be too late to do something about the pains, or symptoms. I am imploring everyone to please do as I say, and not as I did.