I had a pretty rough Sunday a few weeks ago. Think back a few weekends to Sunday, September 7, at approximately 1030 am. Now, imagine me sitting on the couch, in front of the tv, with a Dell laptop, well, on my lap. I toggled between the two open windows on my desktop screen, yahoo and cbssportsline, as I intently monitored my teams’ progress. It was then that I noticed that there was something wrong with my starting quarterback. The score of the game he was involved in was increasing but his stats remained at 76 yards passing. What the heck was going on?
Unless you are a sports fan like me, you are probably asking yourself the same question, what the heck is going on, but in your case, that question is most likely in regards to the setting and content of the previous paragraph. Not only am I ALS Boy, I am also a fantasy football fanatic from late August until late December every year. Yes, I buy the magazines prior to my league’s draft. Yes, I scour the web looking for information on potential free agents. Yes, and I even wake up early Sunday mornings to watch the pre-game shows and make any last minute changes to my starting lineups. Okay, I’ll admit it to the entire blogosphere: my name is Jason and I am a fantasy football geek. Now, back to the topic at hand.
Allow me to pose the question from earlier again: what the heck is going on? I’ll wait a second or two for you to reread that first paragraph. I’ll give you one guess as to who was the starting quarterback on my fantasy team this year? Yep, you figured it out; Tom Brady. In hindsight, I am so happy that I spent my first round draft pick, the fifth pick overall, on a guy that got hurt for the entire season in the first quarter of the first game. (Can’t you just taste the sarcasm?). For the fantasy football uninitiated, basically what happened to me was the equivalent of buying a really expensive car and having it break down about a mile into a cross country trip. And before you can suggest that I just return the car or call AAA or something like that, things don’t work that way on gameday in fantasy football. You pick ’em, you’re stuck with ’em. (At least until you can replace ’em on your roster as a midweek, free agent pickup).
Basically, the second Tom Brady got hurt, my season went up in flames. I was toast. Put a fork in me, I was done. The fat lady had begun to sing the first verse of Don McLean’s American Pie and we all know how long that song is. My fantasy life was over before it had begun. At least I had my health. (ha, ha; even more sarcasm)
Believe it or not, I managed to make it through the rest of the day; for me, ten solid hours professional football can help smooth out the roughest of roads. Everything was fine until around 900 pm that night when I was standing by the kitchen table and I attempted to turn 90 degrees to the right and I lost my balance and fell face first on the tile entryway. My ribcage and right arm took the physical brunt of the blow but it was my shattered confidence that took the biggest hit that evening. I had fallen a few times before but this one was a bit different because not only did I hurt myself (bruised ribs) , this spill came suddenly and without warning. Previous falls had happened in stages, several stumbles and missteps had preceded the inevitable boy meets ground, and I was at least able to mentally prepare myself for the pain. The difference this time was that it all happened so fast that before I could figure out what the hell was going on, I was desperately trying to pick myself up from the cold, hard ground.
Because it happened so quickly, I began to question and over-think every single move I now made. The physical pain I felt on the right side of my ribcage was a constant reminder of the mental trap I had set for myself; I was now in my head about everything. It seemed like my feet were dragging more, my arm strength was waning, and my balance was even more tenuous than I had previously experienced before. I even had a mental breakdown in the shower when my legs locked up and I couldn’t move. Even getting dressed became something I began to dread only for the length of time it took and the amount of energy it sapped from me.
The things that I had been able to do on a daily basis, items on my personal mental checklist, tasks that I clung on to like a life preserver, were quickly slipping away from me at seemingly lightning speed almost overnight. In my heart I knew that there was no way that the progression could move this fast but in my head I felt like I had begun the downward spiral to complete and total dependency; the absolute antithesis of how I had previously defined my life.
In times of crisis, I tend to circle the proverbial wagons, buckle down and try harder to accomplish the goals that are thus eluding me. I attempted the old tried and true problem solving blueprint for a few days to disastrous results; not a single strategy I employed seemed to do the trick. Trying harder equated to failing harder. Getting pissed off and screaming didn’t help either. (My muscles are too spastic and my voice too non-functional to effectively throw a proper tantrum). I was turning into someone I didn’t recognize; a bitter and angry worry-wart who was annoyed at the world. To re-reiterate an already belabored point: what the heck was going on? And what the hell was I going to do about it?
I gave up. Actually, I gave in. To all the offers for help and assistance from my closest family members and friends. Rather than struggle mightily through some inconsequential and mundane task because of my ego and pride, I simply decided to take what had been offered to me for weeks and months now. Once I accepted help getting dressed and tying my shoes, once I allowed myself to use my motorized wheelchair to take me longer distances, once I stopped being so damn stubborn about the little things, I began to enjoy being me again. No longer was I exhausted after showering and getting dressed every day. My old sense of humor returned immediately as well. I had to give a little to get a little. And what I got, far outweighs what I gave up.
So, what did I give up after Tom Brady got hurt in order to improve my team? Well, after losing my first game, I dropped Brady from Tomato Face (my team is named after our infamous Emma picture) like a bad habit and picked up his replacement Matt Cassell who stunk up the joint in my week two loss. Rather than be stubborn and bull-headed about something that wasn’t working, I picked up and started Philip Rivers, who was instrumental in my week three victory. In fantasy (football) as in real life, I was feeling really good about my chances again because I took a chance and tried something different and that has made all the difference in my world.