'One of the Luckiest People Alive'
The first clue that my cell towers were intact came right around the trading deadline, approximately a month after my aneurysm. By that time, I had been transferred from the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston to the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Cape and the Islands. I was perusing the morning box scores in the Cape Cod Times when I brusquely asked my nurse, "Linda, how did Austin Kearns get to the Nationals?"
Linda Stetharces-Caruso had no idea what I was talking about, but she knew me well enough to allow me to grab my BlackBerry and fire off that question, which two general managers answered within the hour. Some gaps have to be filled.
What I endured is trivial compared to 9/11 victims or the suffering of heroes like John McCain, but to get back to the point where Austin Kearns mattered was my return from what was a kind of life-and-death matter. Just to be able to type Kearns' name makes me one of the luckiest people on earth.
Honestly, I remember very little except that I got a splitting headache driving to the Gold's Gym in Mashpee, Mass. At 7 a.m. on June 27, I pulled into a parking lot to sleep. I remember very little about all the people who saved the life of someone whose sister, Anne Durant, died of the same type of aneurysm a decade earlier.
A wonderful person named Agnes Rockett-Bolduc watched me pull into a parking lot, tried to talk to me and immediately called 911. Within minutes, or, really, seconds, the guys at Mashpee Fire and Rescue had me in an ambulance screaming for the Falmouth Hospital, and Dr. John Mendleson, where they immediately diagnosed that I had suffered an aneurysm and needed to get to Boston. So Bill, Christopher and Tim were flying me in their helicopter toward Brigham and Women's Hospital in a matter of minutes.
And when I got to the hospital, I was in the hands of Dr. Arthur Day, who my medical friends insist is the best neurosurgeon in the country. Dr. Day was once a great friend to Ted Williams; the neurological ICU floor at Brigham and Women's is the 9th, for Ted. I had phone and e-mail messages from medical friends around the country that included the phrase "Boston hospitals," and Dr. Andy Whitemore has helped make Brigham and Women's a miracle building beyond comparison.
I will never know how the neuroscience nurses and staff took care of -- much less dealt with -- me, Dan Triggs, Pat Kelly, Kim Templeton, Mary, Richard, Adam -- with everything held together thanks to the strength of my wife, Gloria. She went through far more than me.
People offer me congratulations these days, but sitting here writing is not about congratulations; it is about thanks, care and incredible medical genius. Agnes Rockett-Bolduc, the guys from Mashpee Fire and Rescue, the Falmouth Hospital, the guys from Boston MedFlight and everyone at Brigham and Women's as well as the Rehabilitation Hospital of the Cape and Islands made it possible for me to be happier at the keyboard of my Sony Vaio than I've ever been before.
I was fortunate enough that I'd never spent much time in hospitals, so I never realized how much everyone in the medical world cares. The nurses and technicians at Brigham's were incredible. On the Cape, under the care of Dr. David Lowell, I had a speech therapist, Jeannine Annis-Young, who cut weeks off my recovery, as did my occupational therapist, Beth Kerr, and Kathleen Bobo, who got me back on the road to physical recovery. Understand, the more I came back, the more the trading deadline and pennant races drove me to distraction, which made life for nurses like Denise Meiners, Richard Erdman and Linda nearly impossible. Sorry, I have omitted dozens of names.
Still, all the support of ESPN and my friends of 30-something years in the media and baseball was enough to chill me for the rest of my life, beginning with those so close -- Jayson Stark, Tim Kurkjian, Bob Nightengale and the best boss I've ever known (from the Globe and ESPN), Vince Doria. Or my niece Debby, there at my side, every day. I don't remember much or all the good that was done, but I do remember waking up and seeing Rene Lachemann's face. I will never forget what Kim and Don Mattingly did, the daily call from Ozzie Guillen, Terry Francona never giving up trying to reach me, the reports from the Boston media and Mets officials at Pedro Martinez's grief, the signatures from Cooperstown -- sorry, I could go on forever and never get to Trot and Catherine Nixon and Darin Erstad. But I was reminded of what's real and what's political perception, and appreciate opening notes from George Bush and John Kerry in the same mail and believing, as I did before we became so fractionalized, in each man's goodness and dignity.
Thanks, to thousands more. To Fran at the North Falmouth Superette where I get my papers, water and vitamin water en route to Gold's; or Bob, who has worked the press room in Winter Haven for more than 30 years; or the best of friends like John Keenan -- who flew across the country -- or Eddie and all the guys in Pearl Jam, James Taylor, Paul Barrere and all of Little Feat -- to my co-workers, none more eloquent than Jon Miller.
No one who ever reads this is as fortunate as I, who knows that Gloria is the ballast of the family.