Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Good Times, Come On

A few days after that Nicole, a friend, who was coincidentally visiting from California, arrived. She had been friends with me since college and had always wanted to visit Austin. It turned out to be a well time visit because, it saved her a rental car, it gave me some activities, it created a diversion for a few days while the biopsy results were still out. She was kind enough to drive me around to see a few friends and joined us for some meals.

She had always wanted to go rock climbing and my friend Dave Street took us. I was able to climb things I had never done before. The last climb we took was rather hard, and while Dave probably helped more than I care to admit, I finished the hardest climb of my life despite the fact that my leg was literally shaking. I went to the ship of fools’ workout on both Tuesday and Thursday that week and finished first in both of them. Brandon, a guy who is definitely faster than me, and who did not know about recent events said that I was running with a different gear than he’d ever seen. These workouts were taking every ounce of my energy. Another side effect of the medication was no hunger and extra sleep. I was sleeping in the order of 10-12 hours a day almost double of what I used to do. The guy who had always been hungry was now eating because he reminded himself so. I never figured out what was the chicken and the egg in creating energy problems there but while mentally I was acute my body was certainly not responding. I was also sore in places I’d never been before in my leg, I think due to the fact that I was leaning oddly.

Luckily, about a week and a half after I got out of the hospital, there was what may be the last Ultimate tournament I would play in. My friends Chad, Dre and I had talked a crowd from New York to come to play to this tournament in Austin (while in all frankness, there were people from Cali, South Texas and local ones as well). Like the lions share of tourneys in town, I was the tournament director and while a few people offered to take the role, I kindly passed up their offer. I had brain cancer and while it was illegal for me to drive, I was not disabled.

The tournament ended up being a great thing in every aspect. The weather was great, it was the most teams from the farther regions it had ever during my 4 year tenure as director. A few people had to help out with some tasks I couldn’t physically/legally do. My wife did more than anyone else and said ‘You do all this stuff every time. Wow, you’re an idiot.’ There were a lot of great things that I’d worked on before this that came to fruition over that weekend. The tournament ran smoothly, the party was a success and some of the new ideas we’d tried out were successful (ie mariachi during game play and a taco truck). Physically I looked relatively okay but was still a little off. The very first throw where I first had to sprint since this happened my vertigo came back and I fell after catching the disc. Everyone assumed that it was a slip but it was simply lack of balance. I tried hard to play all weekend but the reality is I played less in all weekend than I typically did in a game or two.

However, it was still great. It was a weekend where the news still hadn’t spread too far and that for the most part I was still just the tournament director who was handing out tequila bottles, who was dancing at the party, who was handing out the tournament prizes. The biopsy was up in the air so with so little information the people who knew and I exchanged lots of brain jokes. The people who didn’t know there was still some level of normalcy so I danced at the party and played in the tourney.

Surprisingly, we beat a team fairly handily in the quarter finals and the semi finals. The finals were close but in the end, the team had a turnover near the endzone we were attacking. I picked up the disc and threw it in for the winning score. I don’t know if I’ll get to return to Ultimate but if I don’t…I went out on top. With the humility I’ve always had, I picked up the trophy, a gigantic piƱata filled with candy and little tequila bottles and very ceremoniously presented it to myself (and my team). The team then tore it up and let my daughter be the one using a stick to beat it with conviction. The pinata was skull shaped and I wished she could beat my tumor with such conviction.

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