Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It's slow going with throwing, but with cancer putting a dent in my mediocre slopitch career for a year, at least there's knowing

My rock star surgeon, Dr. Robert Lee, said that I couldn't start throwing a softball until after Christmas.
I gladly obliged. I waited for Boxing Day.
My good pal Carla McAloney came by yesterday and we threw for about 15 minutes in our front yard.
Beforehand, I was worried that my shoulder was going to fall off. I mean, they took the bottom of my trapezius muscles and folded them into the middle of my back in my eighth and final surgery. Who knew what might happened?
My shoulder held up fine. I'm not even sore today. On the flip side, though, I was disappointed at my balance. I didn't feel comfortable at all transferring my weight from my right leg to my left. Yes, it was the first time I had thrown in over a year, the first time since a bout of Solitary Plasmacytoma cancer, 20 radiation sessions and eight surgeries involving the collapse of my T-2 vertebrae.
Worried that I fall, I short-armed the ball a bunch, prompting Carla, of course, to belt out, "Nice work, T-Rex."
I know. It's just a starting point. I just thought I was farther along balance wise.
Overall, though, it was a spectacular Christmas, especially when you consider that I was tied to bed at VGH, with all sorts of tubes and contraptions connected to me, a year ago. We had a bunch of family from both sides over on Christmas Eve, I saw my folks on Christmas morning and Carol-Ann and I had dinner at her brother's on Christmas.
I even made it over to VGH after breakfast on Christmas. I picked up a couple of bags of chips, a couple of bags of cookies and assorted other junk food and dropped them off for the staff. You can't imagine Christmas in the hospital. You really can't. 
And then I walked out of there and went home. That was my present to myself.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Talking world juniors, Brendan Gallagher and that crazy Solitary Plasmacytoma cancer

I feel bad that I haven't checked in here in awhile. The good news is that it's because I'm busy. I'm working 30 hours a week. I'm getting closer and closer to my share of the household chores.  We even hosted a little shindig. (More about that later.)
Why now? It's world junior hockey tournament time and I don't think you can be a sports fan in this country legally without taking in that event with gusto. Vancouver Giants winger Brendan Gallagher has made the team, and he's a fan favourite looking for a place to happen. He's this scrappy, 5-foot-9ish guy who just might have been born minus the fear gene, considering the way he goes to the net and battles in the corner.
Let me offer up a little more about him. From what I know, he's a 19-year-old of tremendous character.
I've covered the Giants for the Province newspaper (shameless plug for my employer) since the 2004-05 season, so when I got sick last year among the first phone calls I put in were to team owner Ron Toigo, general manager Scott Bonner and coach Don Hay.
Just a few days before I got sick, Gallagher's grandfather, Matt, had lost his battle with cancer. Gallagher even started a fundraising campaign immediately afterwards. (Read about it here.)
Toigo and his son Peter were the first visitors to the hospital room for that initial stay, but Gallagher and fellow forwards James Henry and Craig Cunningham, with strength and conditioning coach Ian Gallagher (Brendan's dad) riding shotgun, were close behind.
I remember thinking how the three of them didn't have to be there, and Gallagher especially. Gallagher knew way too much about hospitals and cancer talk at that point. But they stayed and joked and told lies that a bunch of guys do and made me feel way better.
It was one of those inspiring moments I had during this whole bizarre episode.
I tracked down Gallagher when I got out that first time and went to a Giants game. I thanked him and told him that he wouldn't understand how much it met.
His answer? He shrugged and said, "Steve, it meant a lot to us that you were willing to see us."
Seriously. He's that kind of kid.
Meanwhile, I am feeling better. I haven't used Evander (The Cane) in over a month. My back is feeling a little out of sorts from time to time, like something is pulling, but I think it's a case of me getting more nerves working. There was a point in the hospital where I could feel so little in my back that one of the doctors put in a stitch or two without freezing. Or so I've been told.
The party, meanwhile, was a success by my way of thinking. Dr. Robert Lee, our rock star surgeon, showed up  and was the toast of the whole affair. He begged Carol-Ann and I to stop calling him, "Dr. Lee," but how do you not refer to the person who saved your life in something other than the highest regard?
We did manage to bust out a few "Roberts," before the night was done but then Scott Rintoul (shameless name drop) saw the good doctor for the first time and started bellowing, "Dr. Lee, Dr. Lee, Dr. Lee!!!"
It was like I set it up, but I didn't, which makes it even better.