Last week, I went to a Cleveland Indians game…

By Christopher Green

Now that might not seem like a big deal to the average person, but for someone who is tethered to an Oxygen tank, it can be a big deal.

Especially for me, because I remember the days when we shared season tickets with a bunch of people who worked with Laurie out at the Berea Children’s Home. Each couple would get eight games and they were spread out over the season, so that we all had spring, summer and fall games.

I looked forward to each and every game because I always loved baseball and it gave me a chance to focus on something other than work for at least eight times a year.

We were there for the rebirth of the Indians as a viable baseball team, the first season at the new state of the art ball park that was designed to remind us of the old fashioned ball parks with all the amenities we Americans have all come to expect. Stuff like bathrooms working and not over
flowing.

The old Cleveland stadium was a depression era building project that was out of date by the time the fifties rolled around.

I digress as I so often do.

We held the tickets from the 1994 season all the way through the 1999 season. During that time I started to notice that it was taking longer for me to get down to the seats and then climb back to the top of the section and then walk the half mile or so to get to our car.

I had attributed my “discomfort’ to my repaired hip and my asthma, which is what my pulmonary guy called my breathing problems. This was the time of my life where I was at my busiest. I had about 125 tax clients, several small businesses. I was the treasurer for the Cuyahoga County
Democratic Party and also wrote, edited and took care of the books for the Downtown Tab, a bi-weekly alternative news magazine. I even delivered the papers on more than a few occasions.

To top it all off, I ran unsuccessfully for the State Senate in 1996. Since most of my campaign, due to budgetary restraints, centered on walking precincts and participating in parades, I was completely worn out by the time the election came around in the fall.

I tried my best to keep up and I was failing, little by little, to keep up with all I had taken on. I was always tired, always on the verge of falling asleep. I survived on coffee and fast food which caused me to balloon up to 250 lbs.

But what bothered me the most about this time of my life was that I was slowly but surely alienating myself from all of our friends as I missed parties, was late for dinners and generally trying hard to keep it all up in the air.

Of course it all fell down a couple of times as, like clockwork, every year and a half or so, I would end up in the hospital with pneumonia. To show you how divorced from reality I had become, I allowed News Channel Five to interview me about a private/public plan to finance the new
Cleveland Stadium in my hospital gown in a waiting room on the third floor of Fairview Hospital.

There was another time when I was discharged from the Hospital on Saturday afternoon and was at a campaign meeting that Sunday morning. Laurie was not amused but she understood how important it was to me to never let my weakness show, especially in the political world where weakness of any kind can be the kiss of death.

Such a choice, rhetorical or real life death. That’s how crazed I was.

Anyway, my main source of entertainment was going to those baseball games at the Jake, which is what they called Progressive Field back then. And when it all fell apart and I lost control of everything in my life, what I missed the most was going to the ball park.

By the end of 2001, I had resigned as the treasurer of the party, too ill to care all that much, too disillusioned to regret my decision.

The few business clients I had I lost because I chose to focus far too much of my time and energy on the bright light of the political world. My ego was stroked often as I was a guest on Feagler at least four times, was a regular on a cable chat show and spent more time than I can
remember in the isolated booth of various radio stations scattered across the dial.

That inflated ego of mine, as has happened far too often in my life, was way ahead of my possibilities.

The worse was watching as the Tab slowly, painfully went out of business, beaten down by the dawn of the internet and a vicious ad war waged
between the Free Times and the Scene, the two “entertainment weeklies” here in Cuyahoga County.

We had to give up the tickets to the Indian games and all of this caused me to fall into near depression while struggling with my health.

Suddenly, we were facing financial ruin.

By 2003, I was declared disabled as my true diagnosis came out. That has all been well documented in previous posts so I won’t rehash all
of that. I just wanted a reminder that there were no ifs, ands or buts about my lack of health. The fact that the SSI immediately granted me disability upon receiving my application should have been a wake-up call for me.

But once again, I slipped into a destructive pattern. The only excuse I can offer, given the almost complete collapse of my revenue streams, is that we were desperate for money.  I took the offer to help out when a friend of the family needed a temporary accountant. I was only supposed to come in for a couple of hours a day to oversee the finances.

The first day I went in, they gave me two box seat tickets behind home plate for the last game of the season. Best seats I ever had and it was also the last time I went to a game until last week.

I struggled mightily to make the trip to those special seats. We were so close the guys with the radar guns charting and measuring all the pitches thrown; they were two rows behind and three seats over from us.

You know how this story ends. Within seven months of “helping” out, I was in the hospital in a drug induced coma while they tried to
stabilize me. I came out of that 35 day stay in the hospital forever tethered to an Oxygen tank.

This brings me to my latest adventure at the ball park.

After everything fell apart for me back in early 2001, two of my political buddies asked me to stay on and serve as their treasurer.  I agreed because the work isn’t all that difficult and it kept me in the game, so to speak. And they were both honest men in an increasingly cynical world.

That was how I found myself at Progressive Field last week. The “judge”, as we all affectionately call Judge Peter Sikora, invited Laurie and I along with the rest of his staff down to join him at the last Wednesday Lunch Time ball game of the season. The Indians have been scheduling these day games as a throwback to the days before all the games were played under the lights.

I was really anxious about going to the game, remembering how much trouble I had getting to and from our seats at the ballpark. And that was before I was forced to carry my own air supply.

On top of all that, I was feeling as if I was heading downward health wise. In my last post talking about the Clinic visit, I mentioned that I felt as if I had slipped, that I was finally, after more than seven years of staving off the transplant, at the edge of a plateau about to fall down.

My pulse ox measurements were falling while my Oxygen levels were slowly inching up. I was now hovering around 3.5 liters when just a few
months ago, I was comfortable at 2.5 liters. BTW, these are per minute measures.

I’ve been listless and ever since the Air Conditioner crapped out on us in May; I have just lost energy. But most of all, I was starting to lose motivation as I tried hard to keep my fitness up. After the new AC unit was installed, I tried to get back to my previous level of exercise and all I saw was a quick drop in performance.

In April, I was riding my exercise bike for 25-35 minutes a day. I was doing tons of sit-ups and was able to do more than 35 push-ups.

Today, I can’t make it to five minutes on the bike and the sit-ups and push-ups are out of the question. I was even lifting weights and now I haven’t even tried.

So going to the game was a test, if you will. Could I make it? Could I actually get to the park and enjoy the game?

Well, I made it to the game by taking one of my big tanks. Usually those last about 4-5 hours. I had to leave the game before the end because I was running out of Oxygen. That was less than 3 hours.

The game was entertaining and it was fun sitting up in the “club seats” which is a grouping of seats that is somewhere between sitting in a box seat and relaxing in a loge. It’s nice to see how the almost hoity toity watch a game. And the new scoreboard was great. I taught Laurie how to read box score notation after remembering it all as we went along. That was fun.

I’m glad it was up there because it was a straight shot between the garage and my seat. I didn’t have to navigate down those long steps like I did back in the 90’s.

It’s taken me a while to write this because I have been trying to come to grips with my “diminished” skill set. I think I did irrevocable damage to my lungs while waiting for the AC to be fixed. Nothing is easy in my life and I had to really juggle stuff in order to afford the new Unit. That delay could be very costly in the end.

Suffice it to say that if I had the funds at hand, I might have been able to continue on my exercise regime and not be in the compromised state I feel I am in.

It could be that I just have an infection. But I don’t have a fever. I am always tired and yet can’t sleep for more than a few hours at a time.

I hope I can pull myself together enough to do taxes next year, especailly since I already shelled out for the program and bought a new computer.

I should be getting a call back from the Clinic anytime now as they wanted me back in 3 months and that was a month and a half ago.

I am anxious, stressed out and feeling old. I am also frustrated that my life has changed so quickly. Maybe I was just getting used to being next to normal and that maybe I was spoiled with the light, niggling manifestation of my illness.

I do know this: I have to shake this funk, get out of this mild depression I am feeling or else I won’t be in good form if I have to go into the transplant program.

I guess I haven’t reached the critical point yet, my trips to the clinic have shown me how compromised you have to be to get on the transplant list. But after seven years of relatively good health, it will take some getting used to not being able to do what I was comfortable doing.

Now comes the hard part, I gather.

Irony alert, it is almost a year to the day when I celebrated a great leap forward in health. It’s in this blog post from Sept., 17, 2010

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5 Responses to Last week, I went to a Cleveland Indians game…

  1. When I read your blogs, I feel so much for what you are going through. You write from the heart, and hopefully one day you will turn this into a book so others going through this hard adventure can know they are not alone. Hugs to you Chris!!

  2. Good luck, Chris. Take it one breath at a time and try to focus on what you can do– a minute on the bike still counts as a minute more, spread a few short sessions out and work up from there.

    Keep calling the Clinic– my mother’s pulmonary event taught me that delay makes nothing better when it comes to lung funk.

    Take care and write something escapist– you know, unicorns and rainbows!

  3. ainbows and Unicorns it is… I am outling some fiction right now, roo much reality…

  4. Hey Chris! Glad you made it to the game.Working in a field surrounded by people struggling with the same health issues as you has taught me to stay focused on the goal…no matter what that goal may be. I will be praying for your goals to become a reality. Stay strong and know that many care.

  5. Julie (Narancic) Drengler says:

    Every time I read your blog I am humbled….just know that there are a lot of us keeping you in our thoughts and prayers.

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