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  • In another time, another place, a different mindset, I might have seen this past week as a tragic one. As it was, a few things happened that I just did what I had to do, and moved on. It’s actually been interesting, exciting at times, painful at times, but it’s life – and, obviously, coming into a season of change in my life.

    Sunday night, playing my last games of summer with my Sunday night softball team, my first time up at bat, I got a hit, and made my way around to third base as others got on base. The guy up at bat, one of our harder hitters, smashed a line shot down the line that found my ankle and felled me as I writhed on the ground in pain. For a couple of minutes, I didn’t know if I’d ever walk again. My entire right leg was in extreme pain and I was in a state of shock. The ball had hit me flush on the ankle. But, I managed to get up, limp off the field, and after applying some ice, the pain and swelling subsided, and I continued to play. I went 7 for 10 on the night, including two doubles and a triple. The ankle was a bit sore, but not too painful.

    On Tuesday, I had a realization that just came to me, and I knew that I had no choice but to follow it. It was the last day of my “Year to Live” exercise that I began a year before, and as I sat and thought about how I needed to wrap it up, and wrote about it, I knew that it was time for Hawkeye to say goodbye. So he did. I never meant to be leaving Cowbird myself (me, Pete), just the whole Hawkeye thing. What’s in a name, you ask? A lot, if you’re a head-case like me. That “identity” had just begun to grow a little bit too larger than life, for me. Larger than my life. It needed to go. So, I killed it off. It fit, being my last day in my year to live thing. The Hawk is dead – long live Pete! After a proper period of mourning – (and a cruise to Alaska in a week) – I’ll return to daily posting, which I’ve already missed, since last Tuesday. I just couldn’t help myself with the “bees-rant” yesterday, and now this today. I’m being held captive in my writing/reading seat, feet propped up. More on that below.
  • That night, riding home on the metro, the seat I was sitting in pulled away from the bulkhead and just went down, as we pulled into a station. I have never seen that happen before. I was fine, but the lady sitting beside me suffered a severe hip injury. The next day, my car died. It had to go. We had to get a replacement. I played softball again on Thursday, and had another good game, going 8 for 9, scoring 7 runs, and made some good plays at third base. Everything seemed fine – until I woke up Friday morning to discover 3 purple toes on my right foot, all cold to the touch. Ruh-roh! That’s usually not a good thing. Of course, I wasn’t too worried about it, and was thinking I’d go to work that day, then try to get it looked at on Saturday. Fortunately, my wife encouraged me to have it looked at right away.

    The doctor was very concerned. She mentioned “compartment syndrome”, and immediately sent me to an orthopedic surgeon, without explaining the seriousness of that syndrome. The Orthopedist did, though. After taking some X-Rays, he said that, if it was that, I’d need immediate emergency surgery. Fortunately, though, it wasn’t that. But, he determined that I had edema in both legs (fluid retention, poor circulation), and sent me for a Doppler scan (ultrasound) of both legs, to rule out blood clots. The one on my left leg was an unbelievably painful experience. The specialist made me bend that leg in the worst possible angle for my sprained knee on that leg, and proceeded to spend what felt like hours pressing down on the leg with the ultrasound device, taking the Doppler scan. I would be holding my breath to try to withstand the pain that was nearly knocking me out, when she would say, “Don’t hold your breath, it affects the scan”, so then I would take deep breaths, in and out, again to try to bear the pain, and I’d get “don’t do that, either, it affects the reading – just breathe normal”. Easy for you to say!

    I was ordered to rest and keep the right leg elevated for the next few days, and have physical therapy and an MRI to look forward to next week. So far, it does not appear that this will impact our ability to go on our cruise in a week. That would be tragic! But, short of that, it’s all just been like a movie, and I fortunately remembered to bring my mental laugh track along for the ride on my merry-go-round of doctors and specialists on Friday. All over three purple toes! As my big boss said when I first told him I’d be late, getting my toes checked out at the doctor’s – “What’s a few toes between friends?” I told him I got a real kick out his comment! He got all apologetic on me when it later turned out to be potentially serious - I just laughed and told him I would “toe the line”, and do whatever the doctors told me to do. You have to keep laughing at it all.
  • But, being on my ass and keeping that leg up all weekend (kids, don’t try this at home!), has given me a lot of time to think, and reflect. My little sister suggested, in a facebook post, that it might be time to consider retirement from softball. I scoffed at the idea, at first – but now, I’m really giving it some consideration. In that moment, as I writhed on the ground in pain after that ball struck me, I wasn’t sure if I would ever walk again. I’ve seen guys get hit in the head with balls that were hit just as hard. I wasn’t there, but a few years ago, a guy in our league got killed by a line drive that crushed his windpipe. I’ve had a good run. I began playing again at age 50, and played for nine years, managing teams for eight of those. I play, on average, 100 – 125 games a year. I managed two championship teams, including this Spring’s team, and have played on three others. This year was my best year yet, both at the plate and in the field, despite playing on a sprained knee all year. I thought I would keep playing until I couldn’t play anymore.

    But, I feel like I’ve had a wake-up call. My sister, and my old friend Ray (you might remember him here as Rain), both said the same thing to me – “why not walk away while you’re still at the top of your game – while you can still walk, with dignity.” Being two people that I have a lot of respect for, I’ve decided to be open to that idea.

    Maybe that is why the singing gig came along when it did. Something to keep me young, something to keep me involved with life, with challenges. I can go back to riding my bike more, and swimming, to keep myself fit. Without softball, I’ll have more time for those types of things. I couldn’t possibly ask for more fun and success than I’ve had playing these past nine years. It might be time to hang up the spikes. I’m not getting the same level of clarity on that one as I did on the thought of walking away from my “Hawkeye” persona, so I’m going to sit on it for awhile, and see where I’m at after the cruise.

    So, that’s my ramble for the day. Thanks for listening.
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