June 05, 2008

Drafting Richard Petty

Drafting Richard Petty

By Drizz © 2008

...blink if you can hear me

...can you feel this?

...ok, turn him over please and stabilize his head

I still remember my first full-out seizure occurring at work, typing an email to my sister about having my mom's famous breaded pork chops and twice baked potatoes as a family dinner with my wife of six months. Suddenly, a tingle came over me, and then my fingers wouldn't respond to my command of typing my doctor's name as I had yet another appointment at the U of M to try to figure out what was wrong with me after my accident three months ago. Finally dropping into a catatonic state for six hours in which I couldn't move nor would my limb respond to any of the usual reflex tests.

I thought due to the daily seizures had subsidizing in frequency and intensity, and the ability to make my own bagel, egg, cheese, and bacon sandwiches without fear of putting a nice hole through my hand would signal some road toward normalcy again. But, being carried out on a stretcher by two burly paramedics in the dead of winter while passing the office that yesterday I answered several "where do you see yourself in five years?" "what are you strength?" "can you really fire that third bullet on the river with Queen high?" type questions, brought a lot of things into perspective.

No longer was I the hot-shot up-and-coming worker drone being polished for promotion once I got that elusive parchment from an educational facility proclaiming I took enough credits of Advanced Jump Services in Volleyball 202 and Accounting for Bada-Bing.

No longer would I come to work and see people coming to my desk asking for advice on handling a difficult guest on the phone, how the database's reports were not working, or to give a short presentation on the department's quality assurance findings. They were more likely to look over me with puppy dog eyes of pity.

My job became simply a struggle to show up. Imagine having the balance of Michael Spinks after a minute in the ring with Tyson, the light sensitivity of the sun shining directly into your corneas, and the speech of someone who had too many Cap'n Cokes on his birthday. Imagine starting every day with these heavy chains pinning you to Davy Jones' Locker, and having zero motivation to try to swim to the surface because those depths didn't provide any sunlight to reach.

Eventually through physical and occupational therapy, I was able to slowly enjoy things like playing volleyball with an ankle weight to balance myself, softball with sunglasses and a visor on so I didn't suffer a migraine while performing a throw-hop from right field to throw out that speedy little leadoff hitter trying to stretch an extra base, or use a pen again with the assistance of a dove-shaped writing device. Several of my friends who met me for the first time at the Plaza in Vegas a couple of years ago may remember me wearing a visor and sunglasses, I wore that at all times for nearly four years not just to peel two cards back and ponder a three bet.

Today I'm 95% normal if I ever was normal which I'm sure many friends and family members would turn and have a chuckle at my expense. I don't walk with a weight on my ankle, or use a writing device to scribble my professional athlete-esqe signature on a check.

No, today I try to brush the late bit of hindrances that the accident has caused over the years.

Today is a day I've been looking forward to for nearly seven years. You see, people tend to frown upon allowing drivers of motor vehicles who's bodies spaz out at the sight of flashing lights or blackout for periods of time without warning. Per my neurologist's suggestion that the state remove my driving privileges unless I was in a gutted 87' Monte Carlo at the Sherburne County fair using my trunk to bust someone's radiator to win the demolition derby heat.

The ability to drive is taken for granted by most, much like flicking on the internet to troll for busty college cheerleader porn, if you can't do it, you feel strangely flaccid. I can't repay all the people who have had to go out of their way for the past seven years to shuttle me to a softball game or family poker night get-together. Starting today if I pass my exam, which hopefully will not include milking the prostate, I may regain my ability to pick up a friend or two to check-raise some douchebags at the poker tables at Canterbury just because I can.

Drizz is a writer from Minnesota.

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