Living Life in Incremental Steps: Sports, Cleveland, and Happiness
After a lung transplant, a patient should not partake in some tasks or continue with certain behaviors.
For example, I used to love to do yardwork, such as gardening and keeping my lawn in shape. But my transplant doctor recommended against it. I can’t do other activities as well, but I miss these two the most. Now, I supervise the process.
I don’t live a boring life by any means. I travel and attend concerts and sporting events, which help me to continue living a grateful life.
I set my personal timeline based on upcoming events. I am not employed full time anymore, so some days feel similar to the weekend. I still look forward to the weekends, though, because my wife is off work and we usually have something planned.
The months between the Super Bowl and the start of baseball season are like a grace period in my life. No football or baseball means a major lull in my life. To offset this, I have a gathering on the Sunday that the Daytona 500 is held, which usually occurs around Fat Tuesday.
The gathering is like a miniature Mardi Gras party, and I make 10 gallons of chicken and sausage gumbo. It’s a welcome break from the monotony of the long, cold winters under the gray skies of Cleveland, Ohio.
Last year, I wrote about my Cleveland Browns after the team made some key acquisitions. Unfortunately, my excitement soon diminished when the season started. This was heartbreaking for me and for the other Browns fans. The potential for winning was there, but one can never accurately speculate about a team’s future. I hope the Browns eventually get it right and progress to a winning program.
Since my transplant, I have watched and taken part in several celebrations for a Cleveland team or athlete that won a championship. The Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA finals in 2016. It was an exciting time in Cleveland, as it was the team’s first championship victory.
When a team like the Cavaliers wins a title, it changes the entire demeanor of a city. Everyone has a little skip in their step, people are nicer, and an overall feeling of accomplishment exists, even though the fans don’t play. I was unable to attend any games or the victory parade, but because of my transplant, I was able to witness the events from the comforts of my living room.
Lifelong Clevelander Stipe Miocic was crowned a mixed martial arts (MMA) heavyweight champion in May 2016. Cleveland now has a fighting champion! Miocic epitomizes the city’s working class, and despite his fame, he still works as a firefighter. Soon after he won the championship, there was talk of his next bout being held in Cleveland.
The fight eventually was scheduled and I was ready to buy tickets. They were pricey, but how many opportunities would I have to experience an MMA championship fight in Cleveland? I bought the tickets and the anticipation slowly began.
In my mind, I believe that if I can schedule my life in increments, I can keep living. I know it doesn’t happen this way, but I need to have something to look forward to.
That August, I had a transplant appointment accompanied by a bronchoscopy. A major complication occurred during my bronchoscopy. While I had walked into the hospital with great gains in my pulmonary function, after the bronchoscopy, I ended up in the ICU for three days.
I spent three more days on the hospital’s transplant floor. When I left, I was on supplemental oxygen. I still had the Miocic fight to look forward to, and I planned to attend even if I had to lug my oxygen tank around with me.
Fight night came, and I rode with three friends to the arena. The atmosphere was electrifying. This is one of the reasons I love sports. They always help to take your mind off the stressful things in life.
I’ve been to many sporting events and concerts, but this scene was controlled chaos. It was the loudest arena I have ever been to, and Miocic successfully defended his title. I yelled and stomped so much that I had to increase my oxygen level to the max. But I still wasn’t at 88 percent oxygen saturation. The pandemonium lasted for 20 minutes, but by then, I was in bad shape. Yet it didn’t stop me from displaying my fandom.
I knew I wouldn’t be able to walk out of there. Luckily, one of my friends is a Cleveland police officer, so he approached a colleague to request a wheelchair for me. I took about 20 minutes to become stable. This wore me out, as only a couple of days had passed since I was released from the hospital.
Sports are important to me, but I also value the friendships and companionship that they bring. As a former college football player, I used to love the competition, but the thing I miss most is the camaraderie with my teammates.
Soon after this column is published, I will begin preparing my gumbo and I will start a new timeline. These are incremental steps toward living my life!
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