Tagged: road trip

1 week roller-coaster ride of emotions

For those of you incessantly checking the blog, all one of you, (hi Mom) – we apologize for way too long of a delay in getting blog post number dos up here.  Mrs. Disco writing, Disco is currently whipping a BodyBlade around in physical therapy in hopes he’ll actually learn how to fly.

As we mentioned in the last post, Chris’s injury came out of left field.  As bummed as we initially were, the week immediately following his injury was filled with such contrasting medical opinions that we had the opportunity to step back and do some serious self evaluation.  We were obviously hanging on the hope he wouldn’t need surgery, so the stark contrasts in each doctor’s opinions really threw us for a loop.  Going from one extreme to the other was emotionally draining and by the end of it, it got pretty ridiculous.

So, to bring you on our journey of the emotionally radical highs and lows, I’ll give you the timeline rundown of what we were told the week following his injury.

Basically, this is how it went down:

1.    Mid game, Chris leaves the mound for elbow pain.  (Emotions: Oh crap!  How bad is it??)

2.    Immediately upon entering the clubhouse he passes initial elbow stability tests, which lead us to believe it’s not blown out. (Emotions: Pretty bummed he had to come out of a game b/c of pain, but figure with a couple days rest he’ll be ready for his next start.  We are optimistically cautious.)

3.    Next day Chris is examined by an ortho surgeon.  Ortho says, “nope, you didn’t blow out your elbow; probably just a forearm strain.  Rehab it and you’ll be back in a couple weeks”.  Trainer pushes for MRI anyway.  (Emotions: Yes! Feeling relieved it’s not serious.  Can’t wait for MRI confirmation.)

4.    Later that evening, radiologist calls to say, “Sorry, rehab isn’t an option because you have a torn UCL.  Surgery is the only answer.  You’re out for the rest of the season.” (Emotions: Shocking, shocking blow.  Lots of tears.  How could it be torn??  Surgery?  More tears.  Really, really sad tears.  Sad. Sad. Sad.  Feeling pretty darn low right about now.)

5.    First thing the next morning, two new orthopaedic surgeons examine Chris’s elbow and decide they disagree with the initial MRI report.  They believe there is no tear, just a forearm strain.  They recommend 6 weeks of rehab.  Surgery not needed.  (Emotions: Relieved there isn’t a tear and feeling lucky that he doesn’t need surgery.  At this point we are feeling hopeful, like we got a second chance after enduring last night’s sadness.  Dodged a big bullet.  Today is a good day.)

6.    Later than night, right before bed to be exact, the chief radiologist calls to confirm doctor’s thoughts.  Says, “definitely NO tear in your elbow.  No tear at all.  Initial radiologist was wrong.  You definitely do not need surgery.  You just have an over-stretched UCL, making it appear “wavy”.  You only need rehab.”  (Emotions: Holy roller-coaster ride the past few days. Up, down, up, down, yes it’s torn, no it’s not, etc.   Still bummed about Chris having to sit out for 4-6 wks, but thankful it’s only a month compared to a year.  Hoping to get one final opinion from one of the top sports surgeons, we overnight Chris’s MRI to a few of the best elbow surgeons in the US.  We go to sleep feeling very happy and very blessed.)

7.    Late the following night, 10:30 pm to be exact, we get a text from Dr. Timothy Kremchek (doc for the Cincinnati Reds) asking if we have time to talk.  Dr. Kremchek says, “Absolutely no question about it, Chris’s UCL is definitely torn.  Text book MRI.  He further explains that a “wavy” tendon does not mean stretched; it means torn.  If Chris wants to continue playing baseball, rehab will not solve the problem – he will need surgery.”  (Emotions: Impressed at the personal attention from this amazing surgeon.  He made us feel like he genuinely cared about Chris’s well being.  BUT… now with those new results, we are back to being bummed, a little discouraged and confused.   NOW what are we supposed to do?? hrmph.)

8.    Next day, we get a call from a different ‘top surgeon’.  He’s very rushed and says, “yes it is a tear”, but gives generic information about rehab and says he’s “got 50 more MRIs to review today so if we have any questions to call his fellow”.  Fellow says Chris could try rehab for 6 weeks to see what happens.  (Emotions:  Not feeling very important to this particular surgeon.  More confused.  A little more discouraged.  Should we try rehab? Should we not? What the heck are we supposed to do?)

9.    That night we talk to Dr. Kremchek again.  He is confident it’s a complete tear.  Doc explains Chris could try rehab, but a torn ligament is a torn ligament is a torn ligament.  Kremchek understands all of the recent conflicting medical opinions causing our current state of uncertainty, so he suggests Chris try to throw.  He says, “the proof is in the pudding.  If Chris can’t let loose, if he can’t just ‘let it go’, he’ll have his answer”.  (Emotions:  Bummed, but feeling optimistic about gaining clarity.  Thankful for Kremchek.  That night we pray for clarity and nervously await the next day when Chris will throw for the first time since his injury.)

10.    The next afternoon, Chris goes out to the field to play catch with a teammate while I watch nearby from the bullpen.  It’s not good.  He feels pain through the first couple soft tosses and is afraid to even try and let loose.  He sucks it up and tries anyway.  No chance.  No matter what he tries, his body just won’t let him throw any harder than the 38 mph heat he’s currently throwing.  (Chris’s addition: “At this point he’s barely throwing hard enough to be a tee-ball pitcher” nyuk nyuk.)  Exactly as Kremchek said.  He finally convinces his body to throw a tiny bit harder and it doesn’t go well.  At all.  Significant pain in his elbow.  He can’t put anything behind it.  He catches one more ball and instead of throwing it back to his teammate, Chris walks towards me… head down, shoulders defeated.  He looks up at me with tears in his eyes and says, “well, at least we got our answer.”  (Emotions: Tearful relief.  Feeling grateful God granted us the clarity we prayed for the night before.  Sad to acknowledge Chris’s season is officially over.)

11.    We walk in from the field together with the amazing trainer, Jess, and call Kremchek.  We’ve got some serious questions for him.  He patiently and thoroughly answers each and every one of them.  We know some surgeons don’t actually do their surgeries, so we ask Dr. Kremchek if he would consider doing Chris’s surgery start to finish.  Kremchek says he does all of his surgeries and explains the entire process.  We ask him to explain his “docking” technique of how he attaches the new ligament and ask why his is a little different than Jobe, Andrews, and Yocum.  Before hanging up, we learn one final piece of information we feel valuable enough to choose Dr. Kremchek to perform Chris’s surgery.  Kremchek makes a strong effort not to disrupt the ulnar nerve during surgery unless absolutely necessary because some patients experience nerve pain, tingling, or other side effects.  We don’t want Chris’s ulnar nerve touched.  We schedule surgery 4 days away.

12.    The next day we pack up our car and make the 534 mile drive out to Cincy to meet with Dr. Kremchek.  He is amazing.  He does a saline MRI and as he noted earlier, this new MRI confirms a full and complete tear of Chris’s Ulnar Collateral Ligament.  Because there wasn’t obvious trauma to any of the surrounding structures, the doc and radiologist concur that the UCL had probably been tearing little by little over a long period of time.  This piece of information is unbelievably paramount to us for so many reasons.  It is the final nod, the official “yes”, the complete confirmation that we are officially on a new journey better than we could ever imagine and we are oh so excited for surgery.

Emotions:    bring.  it.  on.  tommy.   john.

1 Minute Monday, June 15th

A lot of firsts this monday.  first flight with a pro team.  first travel in AAA hence the first flight.  first time i can remember going through securtiy without my trusty backoack.  first time ever on a plane with a tucked in dress shirt.  wore somthing called “slacks” which are like pants.

Mrs. disco was able to find a ticket to new orleans that happened to be the same flight so we got to travel together.  she got bumped from second leg of trip, so i had to carry my glove instead of hiding it in her bag which caused for a lot of “rookie” comments from teammat

Wednesdays Are For My Wife

Personally I think Chris’s last post about Texas was hilarious because you have to admit, it’s pretty true, don’t ya think?  Chris and I have many great friends from Texas, including the ones I’m about to write about… oh, I should probably mention who the “I” is in this blog.  It’s the wife writing.  I was supposed to post this last Wednesday under a new series, “Wednesdays Are For My Wife” (or something different if we can come up with something more clever…. any ideas, you can comment here or email jokes@discohayes.com).

Anyway, hi, I’m Tracy, Mrs. Disco to some, but you can call me anything you’d like as long as you don’t call me a cleat chaser.  Oh, heck, you can even call me that if you want because that label doesn’t really count until they are making millions, right?  I’m a lot more of a rambler than Chris is, so excuse this nonsense I’m going on about.

First, I will share with you the stipulation Chris gave me before writing this blog:  If his “rating” dropped any lower than where it currently stands, I would be banned from future blogging.  If, on the other hand, it boosted his popularity level, then I would be able to continue with occasional guest appearances, as they are deemed necessary.  So, help me out by reading this post about twenty extra times and leaving comments raving about how Chris’s wife’s blogs are way more interesting than his. Or not.

I’d like to give you an insider’s look into the secret life of a minor leaguer’s wife.   There are so many aspects of this lifestyle that truly just downright stink for a player’s wife, but luckily for me (and for you I guess), I enjoy turning frustrating experiences into funny stories I can laugh about later.

One aspect that never changes is the fact that we live with only the belongings that fit into our car and are on the road living in non-ideal conditions for seven months of every year, more than half of the time without our husbands.  We pack and unpack a minimum of five times every season and that doesn’t account for last minute promotions.  We need different things for different places, so it’s not like we can take one suitcase and be done with it.  Oh that would be too easy and nothing in the minor league lifestyle is easy (except the groupies. OH! Did I just say that out loud?!).  : ) Whew, back to my story.  We need everything from obvious stuff like his baseball gear (luckily he’s not a position player otherwise we wouldn’t have room for his bats) to kitchen stuff like pots and pans and dishes to our vacuum and cleaning supplies since I’m a neat freak and too poor to buy new ones in every city.  We also need clothes for two seasons (summer clothes for Spring Training in sunny Arizona, winter clothes for the start of the season so we don’t freeze to death in the stands, and then cute little dress up clothes and heels so our husbands can proudly wave at us after a game).  

Side rant about clothes:  When I first started going to Chris’s games in Low-A Burlington, I wore a baseball cap, t-shirt, jeans, and flip flops because isn’t that what you’re supposed to wear to a baseball game anyway???  I noticed some of the more seasoned wives were more stylishly dressed in designer jeans, with fancy handbags, make up, and heels.  Frankly, I thought they looked a little silly for wearing pumps and looking so dolled up at a simple baseball game… but then I mentioned this to Chris and to my surprise he joked that apparently we’re supposed to rise through the minor leagues together to prepare us for the big leagues.  We deduced that the lower level girls have to learn how to dress and behave like a big leaguer’s wife, so they work their way up the levels just like the players do.  Hrmph.  So, now here we are in Double-A and yes, I sheepishly admit I now come to games slightly dolled up.  I still think you can probably tell the difference between the big league wives and me simply because I have a knock-off purse and my hair is usually in a pony tail, whereas the big league wives must get their hair and nails done before every game because they look a little more fabulous than I do.  I did just get a pair of fancy designer jeans, so I think I’m almost ready for a promotion to a Triple-A wife soon; I hope Chris is ready for the move, too!

Okay, back to the original reason I am blogging. (Ya can’t say I didn’t warn you about the rambling.)

We had a slight delay in getting to Arkansas from Arizona due to a little mishap our friends (from Texas) had along the way.  It coincidentally had to do with suitcases full of clothes that didn’t fit into their car, so they were strapped to the roof.  I’ll bet you can see where this is going, but don’t get too excited, it doesn’t end as badly as you might hope.  Chris and I left Arizona right after he finished pitching in his last Spring Training game and our friends left about an hour before us.  After a long day of driving, we stopped in different cities for the night and oddly enough ended up driving alongside one another about three hours into the trip on the second day.  After driving together for about an hour, our friends called our cell to ask if we could take a look at the top of their car because it was making some funny noises.  As they were pulling up along side us, we noticed the front part of the luggage on the top of the car was getting a little wind under it, but it looked fairly secure.  Whilst still on the phone with them, they continued to drive past so we could get a good look at the entire top of their car when we realized they were starting to lose luggage off the back of their car!!!  

Chris was driving, so he couldn’t really see whether anything was really falling off or not, but I started yelling into the phone for our friends to pull over! “Pull over! You’re about to lose luggage off the back of your car!!!” all the while I’m laughing hysterically and almost unable to clearly tell them how critical it was for them to get off the road now!!

Chris thought I was kidding as did our friends, so for a good half mile both cars continued to drive 70 mph on a busy highway with a big blue suitcase dangling off the roof into their back window hanging on by two very thin cords.  The problem is they couldn’t see the suitcase in their window because just like every other minor leaguer, there was so much stuff in their car they couldn’t see out their back windows.  I’m now gasping for air I’m laughing so hard while very urgently pleading for Chris to pull over so our friends would follow.  Everyone eventually realizes I was NOT kidding and we head to a safe place on the shoulder to find most of the luggage probably seconds from becoming road kill.

Our friends had about five big suitcases on top of their car secured down by a tarp and one of those bungee cord nets.  It had worked well for the first four hundred miles, but the second day of driving must have taken its toll on the net and it was starting to give way little by little.  Our friends re-secured the netting and we set out on our jolly way for about ten minutes when suddenly the suitcases made a drastic shift to the back of the car, almost looking like they were about to shoot off like missiles.  We feverishly began honking our horn and flashing our lights hoping to avoid another near-death experience for the luggage and we again both pulled over.  This time they took the entire net off the car, re-positioned the luggage, and more diligently secured everything. We even offered some extra twine we had in our car and added that new support to the apparent fragile rear end area and set off on our jolly way for a second time.

Texas Sized Torpedo
Chris and I watched their luggage like hawks now impressed by how well the luggage in the back of the car was staying in place.  What we didn’t notice was now the front luggage was no longer secured well and the hooks on the bungee net were starting to fly off and cause the tarp to look like a parachute on top of their car.  We decided to take a drive by to check out the front of their parachute and HOLY COW (!) the front suit case has so much air under it now, it’s standing up on the back corner of itself about to flip up and go flying over their car!  Again, I start waving my arms wildly, pointing at the top of their car with big panic stricken eyes trying to get them to pull over AGAIN! This time there was an exit to an old country road we pulled off to and then used the rest of the twine to tie their stuff down for good!

I guess that’s why they say third times a charm because sure enough, this time everything held well enough to get our friends safely to Arkansas with all of the much needed designer clothing a Double-A wife will need for a season.  

Honestly, angels were watching over our friends on their trip from Spring Training to Double-A because based purely on physics they should have lost all of their luggage multiple times and it really would have caused a horrible accident because it’s not like a normal car would have driven over their Texas-sized suitcases like it was a pebble from Rhode Island.  Could you imagine the sight it would have been to witness a blue torpedo shooting off someone’s car at 70 mph??