It has been well documented we can be influenced by our surroundings or by what we hear even when our conscious mind is “turned off” or totally out of it, such as when we are asleep or under anesthesia. As previewed here on this blog, Mrs. Disco and I are doing everything we can to have as positive an influence on my healing process as possible. This meant we had a huge opportunity while I was “under the knife. During surgery, a time when a patient is most vulnerable/susceptible to picking up on what doctors/nurses are saying, we felt it would be a great opportunity to apply a powerful technique Mrs. Disco is not only trained in, but also amazing at: Guided Imagery.
Guided imagery can be explained in many ways—many of which I’ve heard, but I’m still not confident enough to publish what it is. So I’m going to leave that to Mrs. Disco in the paragraph below.
We look at it as a therapeutic tool using carefully chosen language, suggestions, and visualizations to positively influence the mind and body. What this means is that while Chris was under anesthesia for his Tommy John surgery, instead of listening to the voices of the medical staff and the beeping of machines, he was going through images and feelings of miraculous healing, among other things.
I find all of this fascinating. Mrs. Disco teaches me more about this kind of stuff every day as we go along the healing journey. There are some particular aspects of all of this we find truly intriguing. First one is the mind, in an altered state (under anesthesia for example), is capable of more rapid and intense healing, growth, learning, and performance. The other is that medical literature suggests when we have a sense of being in control, that, in and of itself, can aid in healing and recovery.
One of the things I was worried about with the surgery was that I would be able to feel what was going on, but be able to do nothing about it. Not sure where I got this, but maybe I’d flipped through an after-school drama one day and seen this phenomenon. Thankfully this didn’t happen, but based on how amazingly good I felt immediately after coming out of anesthesia, my mind was still working and listening.
So, if we can hear while we’re undergoing surgery and we heal better if we feel like we’re in control, then I’m pretty sure I don’t want to hear a doctor say, “I don’t think he’s going to make it” or “he’s bleeding all over the place” and I also want to feel like I’m in control in some way, shape, or form. Thankfully, I had an incredible surgeon, Dr. Kremchek, who is not only all about this, but we’ve noticed, he is also someone who focuses on the positive, naturally and effortlessly. So when Mrs. Disco came up with the idea for me to wear noise-canceling headphones to listen to an mp3 she made especially for my TJ surgery, Dr. Kremchek was all about it.
So how is someone supposed to feel like they are in control when they are actually completely out of it? Good question. I wondered the same thing.
I will add this aside…For some reason during the 2006 baseball season (before even meeting Mrs. Disco), I decided every time I wanted to sleep on a bus, I would play a mix of Radiohead songs. I had a bunch of their songs, but never actually listened to any of them, so I decided to listen to them while I was asleep. To this day, I have not purposefully listened to a Radiohead song while awake, but when one does come on the radio, I instantaneously know that I know the song and have heard it. Interesting…huh? I couldn’t tell you one lyric of any Radiohead song, but I have heard them—consciously or not—for hours and hours (long bus rides in the Midwest League) and they are implanted somewhere deep in my brain.
This brings us to my surgery. Mrs. Disco’s research told us we are susceptible to suggestion while unconscious, her experience made her the perfect candidate to record an audio track with Guided Imagery, and I had experienced first hand already the effects of listening to something while unconscious. It was all coming together perfectly. So for my surgery, I wore noise-canceling headphones while listening to guided suggestions asking my body to move blood away from the surgical area for a clean working space for my surgeon, asking my body to regulate my blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing by keeping it stable and by telling my body it’s okay to accept the new ligament as if it belonged there all along.
I’m so grateful God gave Mrs. Disco this amazing and totally pertinent ability to motivate me and help me heal through language and imagery. The mp3 is about an hour and twenty minutes long and its expansive content encompasses a bunch of stuff I don’t know much about, just know it works. She included the three sensory modalities (visual, auditory, kinesthetic). We all have preferences of how we like information presented to us and usually tend to respond better when they are presented in our “choice modality”. For instance, some people are visual learners who like to see what you mean in a diagram or picture. Auditory learners tend to “get it” when they simply hear an idea, while kinesthetic learners need to experience what you are talking about for themselves. Like learning to ride a bike – some may only need to see someone else riding the bike to know how to do it on their own. Others may only need instructions given and are able to get on the bike and start riding. While others need to actually get on the bike and try it themselves before they can fully learn. Most people learn through a combination of sensory modalities, so Mrs. Disco included all three on my mp3.
Here are a couple very basic examples of the three modalities she used on my mp3 (Mrs. Disco asked me to tell you these are the most simplistic forms of applying these techniques)
Visual: See your body healing. Picture your elbow becoming stronger, now.”
Auditory: “When you hear the beeping of machines, your body relaxes even more as you tune into your Inner Healer for a miraculous recovery.”
Kinesthetic: “Every time air enters your lungs, you’ll be reminded to relax and experience pleasant sensations of healing”
The day of surgery, I asked the nurse to give me at least a ten-minute heads up before getting wheeled into the O.R. so I could start my mp3 to help me relax a little more. All I remember is hearing my wife’s sweet, soothing voice calming my thoughts, reassuring me I was safe and in good hands. Next thing I knew, I was in the recovery room elated with my amazingly strong, new elbow and telling anyone who walked by how awesome it was.
Today if you were to ask me what was on that CD, I would have no idea. But the surgery went perfectly and from day one I have been healing amazingly well and have been ahead of schedule. And every once in a while Mrs. Disco says something that makes me think…hmm, I know I’ve heard that before.
Next up: NLP & Hypnosis
Bout darn time we get back on the ball, eh? So, we’ll pick up where we left off… answering the question:
How are we going to work together to get this elbow to heal miraculously and what do we need to do to make it happen?
We both truly believe the path to absolute optimum health and recovery consists of:
- Positive thoughts
- A true belief in your healing
- Realistic understanding of the process
- Ability to really listen to what your body is telling you
- Surrounding yourself with a healing/healthy environment
- Guided Imagery
- NLP & Hypnosis
- Healing Touch
All of us have the ability to decide how we are going to feel about something – we can either complain about how something isn’t perfect or we can cheerfully, with gratitude see all the good things about that same situation. We can think of our aches and pains as “bad” or be grateful we are able to recognize the signals our body is trying to tell us and then figure out a plan to manage or even fix the source of the problem.
In this same manner, language and how we use our words holds more impact in our lives than we might imagine. If someone constantly identifies themselves as having a “bad back or bum knees or ‘what a pain the neck’ or ‘this is a pain in my butt’” – well, this may come as a surprise to you, but more than likely your back and knees aren’t going to get any better and if you hadn’t had neck or butt pain, more than likely you’ll eventually talk yourself into having neck issues and hemorrhoids…. unless you shift into using more positive language patterns like you may have already begun to start thinking about, now.
Same goes for this miraculously healing elbow. The mind and body are more powerful than we can imagine. The body has the ability to heal itself, but we end up talking ourselves out of it. We started thinking, well, what if we instead talk ourselves INTO it… what if we can be a catalyst for encouraging a positive healing experience?
Mahatma Gandhi said: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” This also goes for our immediate surroundings and relationships with others. If we want to live in a more positive, healthy environment or have better relationships, then we have to look inside ourselves to begin that change. You can’t expect other people to change for you. But if we gradually shift our own attitude, we then begin to see the world around us shift as well. So that’s what we did with the elbow. We truly believe the blowout was a gift from God. We’ve dug deep; taken an honest look at ourselves to figure out our fears, our faults, our short-comings and as hard as it is to do, it’s what gives us the ability to make progress; to be the change we wish to see in our lives.
So, as we share these next few blogs, as much as it seems we are writing them to share with others, (which we are), we are more so writing them for ourselves to help us grow. We pray for you and hope at the very least one-person smiles while reading this and thinks to themselves, “yes, I also want to be the change I wish to see in the world and in my own relationships and surroundings” and in turn, a small piece of your world is just a tiny bit better because of this. It’s the least we can hope for.
Next up: Guided Imagery (during surgery)
I guess it’s a sign Tracy and I are on an amazing journey that seemingly every step of the way we look at each other and one of us will say this is going to make a great chapter in the book. The book itself doesn’t exist in paper form, yet as each page turns in our life, it’s so good, we just can’t put it down. But then again, we don’t really have a choice.
I don’t know if we’ll ever sit down to write our story years after the baseball journey has come to an end, but seemingly countless “low points” have, at the time, looked like perfect opening chapters. Ours is a story of progress—ascension, in a way—and we’ve thought it would only make sense to start at the lowest point and let the reader work “up” with us through the book. Yes, there have been peaks. Almost always they have been more spectacular than we could even dream up. But there have also been plenty of “valleys”. And as the journey continues to unfold, each new “valley” we’re mired in makes for the best opening chapter yet.
Two weeks ago, I tore my Ulnar Collateral Ligament.
It was Saturday, May 21st and I was pitching in Somerset, NJ against the Somerset Patriots with two outs in the bottom of the 3rd inning. After five submarine offerings including a foul ball on the last one, I decided to throw Josh Pressley an overhand sinker. I came set and delivered the pitch. Upon the release I felt sudden and sharp tightness in my forearm.
The pitch was fouled off and the count remained 2-2. My heart began to race and as I got a new ball from the umpire, I shook out my forearm to evaluate what was going on in my arm. I knew it wasn’t good, but adrenaline was in charge and a fair assessment was near impossible. I remember thinking in the next 10 seconds before I should deliver the next pitch, I easily could either grossly under-diagnose the issue just as easily as grossly over-diagnose it. Neither were good options.
I don’t normally check the radar gun in the ballpark while I’m pitching (the ego can only take so much), but I wondered if the pitch, despite feeling like it came out with good velocity, actually was insanely slow. I figured if I had blown out, which I didn’t think I had, I’d turn around and see a big FIVE-EIGHT. Turns out I was wrong…on both regards.
I should take a step back and acquaint people new to this blog. Ever since I was a tiny child I have thrown things, balls, rocks, crunched up paper. You name it, if it could be thrown, (even if it couldn’t be thrown) I’d throw it. It just feels like the right thing to do. I remember one time throwing a Nerf baseball against a door and counting how many times in a row I could do so error-free. I honestly don’t remember what the number was when my mom asked me to stop, but I do remember saying “one-thousand” to myself a lot of times. I’m not saying this to brag (frankly it wasn’t very difficult going error-free for so long when I was only five feet away from a perfectly flat surface) I’m saying this because despite knowing I would no doubt make an error, I still did it over a thousand times. I don’t know how old I was, but I do know we moved out of that house when I was eight. In that same house I remember breaking countless artifacts my mom held dear to her heart. At that point in my life, I threw harder than I should safely throw in the house. And come to think of it, I guess my aim pretty lousy.
From those roots, I became a soft-throwing control pitcher in professional baseball. The Disco nickname comes from my fastball not being able to get out of the 70s. Overhand I have thrown as fast as 86 and maybe on occasion I’ve been lucky enough to have hit 87; but then again, I’m not quite sure.
The stadium radar gun in Somerset read 91mph. That is faster than any radar gun has ever clocked me, ever, in my entire life, even on a good day with a fast gun.
I don’t remember experiencing any excitement over the 91; I was still in diagnosis mode and this was just another data point. It couldn’t be blown out if the pitch came out that well. I stepped back on the mound and found the rubber. The pain wasn’t in my elbow; it was in my forearm. Our catcher called for a fastball. Just throw it, don’t baby it. If it’s blown out, it’s blown out. I came set. What if it’s just hanging on a thread? The submarine offering was again fouled off and the count remained 2-2. The tightness continued to clamp down.
After two more non-competitive pitches out of the zone, the batter headed towards first base and I began to pray. I started to pray for health, but then without any conscious intent to do so, my prayers shifted towards asking for the strength to summons the trainer and our manager out to the mound to let them what was going on.
I have been blessed to wear a professional uniform for over 1,000 games in my career and up until this point had been unavailable to play in exactly zero of them. Gaining the courage to admit I actually had an injury was significantly harder than I thought it would be. I surely didn’t have the strength to do so, but my prayers were answered.
When I told my manager what had happened he immediately signaled to take me out of the game. I was hurt.
That night, my arm numb from the effects of the ice, we couldn’t help it… This is going to make for a great chapter in the book. Heck, THIS has got to be the opening chapter.
I’m going to ask Tracy to write this section of the blog. I will preface it by saying I sit here absolutely thrilled about what comes next for us. We have talked about this for hours on end and we both feel exactly the same way, but my perfect and pretty little wife has an amazing knack for making things especially uplifting and it wouldn’t be fair to you to have me try to write this and obstruct her energy even in the slightest. Without further ado, here’s Tracy:
Honey, first let me say, I’m so grateful you decided to start blogging again. (Holy cow! I already have to add a side-note here. Sheesh! Before I started writing my little portion only moments ago, I quickly prayed for the perfect words. A simple and quick prayer to help me engagingly express our excitement with the perfect words and as soon as I said Amen, I felt the urge to start typing and this is what came out: “Honey, first let me say, I’m so grateful you decided to start blogging again.” Then craziest thing happened (at least for us anyway), as soon as I typed that sentence, a beautifully hovering hummingbird appeared right outside my window!! You see, hummingbirds are incredibly, incredibly special to Chris and me and have appeared out of nowhere, more times than we can count at the perfect times… just like now. We’ve never seen a hummingbird in this area. Ever! Didn’t even know they existed here! For me, it was just yet another little wink and thumbs-up from God showing we’re still on the right path and most importantly for right now, He’s glad Chris is back, too. So cool.
Okay, I’m back. I’m not sure how much or little Chris wants me to write, so I’ll pick up where he left off – the night of his first ever game-removing injury. That night was especially peculiar for us because he had never been hurt. Together we’ve dealt with rough games, tough calls, disappointing roster moves, you name it – baseball related stresses – we’ve been through almost everything… except an injury. That night and over those next few days, the list of unknowns, what-ifs, and the inherent fear of what a real injury might mean for us were with no doubt at the forefront of our thoughts. Will he be ready to go before next start? What if he’s not? How long should he rehab? Can he even rehab from this? What if it’s a serious injury? What if he needs surgery? “Could you imagine if you needed surgery, honey?? Ha! You? Surgery? Mister always perfectly healthy. That would be crazy. So didn’t see that one coming.” How long would it take him to come back? Would he come back? What would we do if he didn’t come back? Is it even possible to come back? 28 years old in independent ball and now with a potential injury. At first glance, a future in baseball ain’t lookin’ so bright … or is it??
I don’t know how or why, but over the days following his injury we can honestly say God did some serious intervention with our thoughts and has shown us so many irrefutable signs and reasons why playing baseball is not only still very much a part of our future, but that He is preparing to absolutely blow us away in sheer amazement and awe of what is in store for us and what has already begun unfolding before our eyes.
I think I’m actually going to end my portion here. I didn’t even get to the good parts yet, but I’m getting the sense that for now, this is perfect and I will trust my next guest appearance will begin sharing the stinking awesome and amazing things that have happened to us recently. I can’t wait to share them!!!
In 2006 I had already begun writing down some stories from my experiences early on in baseball. The first one I ever wrote was my first professional appearance as a pitcher. I gave up something like 4 runs in 0.2 innings. At the time, it was a crushing experience. But there was a story within the inning that, despite not making any sense at the time, I knew was noteworthy. So I wrote it down. It was such a miserable performance on the field and a miserable feeling wondering if I just wasn’t good enough, I remember thinking at the time this is the perfect start to the book.
Since then, I had supplanted the story of my first outing countless times with other deeper “valleys” that have been “better opening chapters”.
Which takes us to the present. I get Tommy John surgery this week. I’ll miss the remainder of the season and be in a brace for weeks. We’re left hoping my left hand can step it up and Tracy won’t have to wipe my valley in the meantime. I’m 28 years old in independent ball and hurt for the first time in my career. Can’t get any lower, right? THIS is going to make for a great chapter in the book. Heck, THIS has got to be the opening chapter.
It may very well be the opening chapter. But if it is, it won’t be for the reasons we used to think. True, ours is a story of progress—ascension, in a way—but we have seen time and time again without exception that the supposed “valleys” turn out not to be “valleys” at all. Remember that confusing, noteworthy part of my first outing? Now it makes perfect sense and has perhaps helped me as much as anything I’ve learned in my entire career. I won’t share it here (this is painstakingly long enough already), but suffice to say each and every low point has proven to turn out in such a positive way. We could go on and on. We are grateful we have been more blessed by our low points than any other points along the way.
The only difference is this time—for this Tommy John chapter—we didn’t have to wait until after the fact for the low point to reveal it is actually a true and amazing blessing. This time it hasn’t taken us until after the fact to see that we’re not actually in a valley at all; we genuinely feel how blessed we are as each new page turns.
Here’s Tracy again with the final run down:
Much to Chris’s lovingly adoring chagrin, I admit, I can sometimes be the kind of person who needs a little explaining during a confusing movie, “Wait, so how did that guy end up there?” Like Inception with Leo DiCaprio, for instance. Confusing, yet amazing movie that I intentionally mention here because it also just so happens to have NLP (neuro-linguistic programming), subconscious suggestions, and hypnotherapy mixed in all over the place… which is a foreshadow into our coming blogs. See, instead of just leaving those comments here for someone to hopefully pick up on the foreshadowing in later blogs, I will just spell it out for you:
Here’s what’s to come –
- Disco officially back to blogging. Yay. Took ya long enough!
- Blog posts catching you up to the present day are coming, so if you read this and, like me, get confused when timing isn’t what it should be… I promise in a week or so, we will be up to speed, in real time, everyone all caught up, fully understanding what the heck is going on.
- Very cool, very awesome happenings we can’t wait to share
- Robotarm. It’s a thing.
Can I get a woop woop?
Roger. Over and out.