Hey Camden, how are you doing today? How is school? Okay, Okay, I know you hate that question. How was Halloween? Did the Daddy Tax go up this year? It was pretty high when your mom was a kid. Those were some tough times in Kidville. Just saying.
Camden, I know you are wondering, or maybe you are not wondering, why I have not written an essay in the last six months. Some have asked. Hey, has it been six months? I guess I did not have anything to write about. HAHAHA
Okay, much has been going on, and I am not short of essay topics. Just where should I start in an attempt to catch up?
Hey, let’s talk baseball. I always like talking baseball.
Camden, I know you, and I had tickets to see the Cards and Royals play this past May.
I hoped to hear the umpire yell, “Batter Up!”
As a catcher, I heard that often as I grew up.
Then the rains came. Sometimes the rain can temporarily change plans. We will see other games.
In my last essay, I talked about getting the newest super-duper FDA-approved PSMA PET scan they were using at the KU Medical Center, soooo I probably need to touch on that. The scan was not rained out.
I had scheduled the scan for when I was in KC. I was going to see you. We were going to watch baseball. I was going to have the scan, and then Dave Pace and I planned on flying to San Francisco to see the Cards play the Giants.
Why San Francisco? Well, we wanted to see, or I wanted to see, the Cardinals play in another city. I had never been to San Francisco. Now I have. We will call the trip…Dave and Kev’s Great Adventure.
While preparing for this great adventure, I asked the cancer center to have one of the nurses call me with the results. I knew that KU Med would have sent them the results while I was on my trip.
I knew what was happening. My medical team knew what was happening. We just needed confirmation. The scan would help us decide what needed to be done.
Camden, my body was telling me what the scan would find.
I could feel that Brutus was growing. My doubling time for the past year was now three months. Damn!! That is very fast.
So, Brutus, you think you are fast, do you? Let me tell you that you are not as fast as Camden and I are eating a bowl of chocolate ice cream. So take that.
That takes me to another ice cream related thought I need to talk about before getting back on topic. Camden, I will talk about you now, so you do not have to pay attention if you do not want. Here is the thought.
Erin told me that Camden was eating some chocolate ice cream one day, and he mentioned that chocolate ice cream was his favorite. She told him that chocolate ice cream was also Papa’s favorite. He said that he knew that. He then added that liking chocolate ice cream must be in his DNA.
I laugh every time I tell that little story. Damn that hurt. I just slapped my knee. Control yourself Kevin. Sometimes I like going third person. Now back to Dave and Kev’s Great Adventure.
I know everyone wants to hear the results of the scan, but that would put us too far ahead of what happened on the trip. So calm down and have a bowl of ice cream. Dr.Camden’s orders.
Now picture this, Dave and I are now on the airplane.
While on the plane, I have my phone on airplane mode. At least, I think I do. Let me ask the person next to me how to do that.
Do you have to put your phone on airplane mode? Just asking.
I’m leavin’ on a jet plane, I don’t know when I’ll be back again.
Okay, that is not entirely true. We were flying out on a Thursday. It is a four-game series ending on Sunday. We have tickets to the first three games. We fly back Sunday.
So when we landed in San Francisco, what do you think was the first thing we did?
Yes, we checked into the hotel. I am talking about after the hotel. The fun stuff.
Oh, by the way, the hotel was not even a block from the stadium.
(Good job Kev…Third person)
Well, the first thing we did was go to the ball game. We landed just a few hours before the first game started. Did not miss the first pitch.
We went to the game and cheered on a Cards win. Made friends while there.
We sat next to a man and his father. The son currently lives and works in the St. Louis area. He is from San Francisco. He and his father have season tickets to the Giants games. He flew from St. Louis to see the series. He was a Giants fan. I worked on him, but he was still a Giants fan when we left.
We left with the taste of victory. We did not rub it in.
I did not play; We Are The Champions on my phone as I usually do when I win a game of cards or beat Camden and Adalie in a game of Sorry. Sorry, not Sorry.
The fans there were very nice. We had a great evening. We appreciated their hospitality as much as the Cards appreciated those fastballs down the middle.
We were gracious winners. Also, Camden, we were outnumbered.
A man has got to pay attention to his surroundings and present situation.
Be gracious unless you just beat KU. I am sure your parents will tell you to ignore that one.
After celebrating the victory, we returned to our very close hotel.
The next morning my oncologist’s office called.
The nurse on the phone had the results. She would not tell me anything on the phone. She reminded me that I had an appointment with the doctor in a few days. The doctor would then talk to me about the scan results.
She would fax the scan results to my hotel. I gave her the fax number and notified the front desk. I later went down to the desk and picked up the report.
The scan confirmed that Brutus had metastasized into my bones. The area where I had been complaining of pain is where Brutus was located.
At least now I knew that I was not crazy. That made me happy, but the happiness was short-lived.
I knew that now I would have to return to treatments. I could no longer say no and tell myself I would be okay. I knew before the scan that I would need to go back on the poison, but one can hope.
This was bad news. Not insurmountable. But bad.
It is what it is.
Another random thought Camden. A teaching moment. So to speak.
My Physical Therapist Jacqueline told me one day that the “It is what it is” statement was just a polite way of saying….”Shit Happens!”
She then asked me if the exercise I was doing hurt. Hell, yes, Jacqueline!
Jacqueline let me know that sometimes when you jump out of airplanes…Shit Happens. She is sooo right.
Now back to San Francisco.
I would read the report and then put it away. Later I would take the report out and again put it away. I am not sure how many times I did this. Maybe I was hoping that something would change. Maybe I was trying to make sense of…Shit Happens.
Dave asked me about the report sometime over the next few days. I told him. He said that did not sound good. I agreed but added that it was going to be okay.
I tell people that I am okay.
I tell people that I am going to be okay.
The truth is…those statements are false.
I am not okay. I will not be okay. I will not be better. I need a cure.
Without a cure…well all we can hope for is to manage Brutus better. To slow his progression. To ease the pain.
I do not think anyone knows what the best treatment protocol for me is at this time. My doctors and all the other doctors in the world are very bright people, but you know they all practice medicine.
I do not know. My doctors do not know.
If my medical team or I only knew what was going to work. If we only knew how my body and Brutus would react to different treatments.
If I only knew what was coming.
To see the future would, of course, help everyone do everything. No one knows the future.
Unless you are a catcher.
Have I mentioned to you Camden that I was once a catcher?
Let’s go back to when I was eight years old.
The only thing I remember about being eight was playing baseball.
Girls were not yet in the picture. That was when I was nine. When I started driving.
Anyway, when I was eight and had graduated from the second grade, we moved to the metropolis called Wellsville. Population…hell, I do not know. It was under 1000. BR549 country.
I knew no one. I had not been in town long, so I signed up to play baseball. You know, that see-the-world thing. Or at least the DQs in a few neighboring towns.
When we met for our first team practice, the Manager, Don Poole, went over each position and asked who would like to play that position.
When he asked who wanted to be the team catcher, no one spoke up.
That is when I stood up, puffed out my chest, and said I would be the team leader. I would put on the so-called tools of ignorance and lead this team to victory after victory.
Okay, Okay, it did not quite go like that. But I was thinking…
My thoughts were, hey; you are the new kid. No one knows you. If I wanted to play every game, this was my chance. If no one else wanted to catch, then I would get to play. I would wear the tools of ignorance.
That is how it happened. I was not a first-round pick, so to speak.
I was a catcher for the next ten years. Through small-town summer ball, high school, and American Legion.
Well, I caught American Legion when they let me. When Randy was pitching, I was the catcher.
I was his Yadier Molina, and he was my Adam Wainwright. I do think Randy’s fastball was better. Just saying. Sorry, Wano.
Okay, let me further explain Camden.
Randy was one of the best pitchers I have ever seen or caught.
He could hit as well. He was Shohei Ohtani before Ohtani was born.
I guess the manager of the Legion team figured that I knew him better, so they asked me to tag along to be his catcher.
Catching Randy over the years, I noticed a few things.
His pitches overmatched the hitters. They could not compete. I felt bad for them.
He could throw that speedball by ya. Make you look like a fool.
My inner Springsteen. Yes, those were Glory Days.
I started talking to the hitters. Beyond my full repertoire of chants on how bad the hitter was, we did have some casual conversation.
I might have asked if that was their sister sitting along the third baseline and if she would go out with me. Hell, I knew she would. We were all Bad Asses.
I did not tell them that if my dog was as ugly as them that I would shave his butt and make him walk backward. No, I did none of that.
Depending on the hitter, sometimes I tried to build up their confidence. I told them that they could hit Randy. They just needed to believe. Hahaha
Hell, when that did not work, I told them what pitch was coming and what area it would be thrown. Yes, yes, I did.
Randy had more pitches than I had fingers. So we would have to decide which pitches he would throw before each game. We usually used the following.
We had the curve that he threw at the hitter, but in the last second would break over the plate for a strike. I liked that one.
We had the curve thrown down the middle of the plate that said hit me. At the last second, it would break out of the strike zone. The hitter would then have to pick himself up from swinging and missing. I liked that one.
We had the drop ball. Or was it a splitter? Or was it a 12 to 6 curve? Hell, I do not remember, but I liked it.
Of course, he had the two-seam and four-seam fastballs with pinpoint control. I liked that one, and I liked that one.
I would tell the batter. Hey, he is going to throw a curve ball right at you. Now do not worry; it will not hit you. It will break over the plate. Now hit it.
It never failed. Each kid seeing that ball coming right toward them, bailed out. The ball then broke over the plate for a strike. I laughed my ass off.
I never lied to a hitter. When I shared info, I always told them the pitch and location.
Can you believe that one day a batter asked the umpire to tell me to shut up?
Do not answer that question.
Would you believe that the umpire then told me to shut up?
That is how he said it. He told me to….”Shut Up!” We were on the road.
Geez! I was just having a friendly conversation.
Here is the rest of that story. No one ever got a hit from me telling them what was coming. Thank God.
Randy was big. I was small.
If someone had gotten a hold of a pitch and Randy found out I told him what was coming, he might have been pissed. I do not remember if I told Randy I was giving his pitches away. Well, now I have.
Now I was a little selective. I did not tell every hitter what was coming. Most, yes, most.
No harm…no foul.
That brings me back to today.
You see, there is harm in all my treatment options. I do not know if they will work and if they work, I do not know how long they will work. I do not know which is best. I do not know which side effects I will experience.
A few days after arriving home from California, I will meet with my oncologist to discuss a game plan.
We have faced team Brutus before. Doc has dealt with him more than I have.
We will go over which members of the Brutus team cannot hit the curve. Or lay off the high fastball.
We will have gone over the data to provide me with the best care. The best quality of life.
In my mind, when the day finally arrives, it will go something like this.
I will give the sign of the treatment to be administered. The Doc cannot shake me off.
I will not tell Brutus what is coming. He is far too strong of an opponent. He will then swing and miss. Just like missing a Randy curve.
That is how I see it. Time will tell if my vision becomes a reality.
Those are my thoughts, Camden. Talking baseball might be an easier way to help you understand my situation. If not, your dad will explain the baseball. Today I would rather not use medical terms and names for drugs I cannot spell.
I believe we will have more games to watch together. We might even hear the umpire yell out the two words I yelled to Brutus.
No, not those two words. You have been listening to your mother too much. These two words…
I can only say…You are truely an inspiration . You show people how to never give up on life and to keep living every day to the fullest.
Thank you Pam. I would love to see Grant when he is in town.
Kevin could hit too, and was fast. One time he hit the ball into right/center gap. He knew rounding first that he was going to third and he hauled ass and got a stand up triple. The ump called him out but no one watching knew why. It was explained that when rounding second, Kevin flipped his helmet off. Upon hearing that was the reason, he charged the ump, veins popping out on his neck, yelling that he had to flip the helmet off cause it was catching on his ears. This is the beginning of players and managers charging umpires. It was similar to George brett in the pine tar game. Google this to see what Kevin looked like.
Dave, I remember that incident very well. You are so funny. You are probably more accurate than I would like to admit. That was wrong what that umpire did. That helmet was going to come off by itself. I just assisted a little. II had to let my hair flow. I was Bader, before Bader. Also before his haircut. I cans see George in my mind. Yep, I looked a little like that. Thanks for the laugh.
I follow your journey and you are brave … you are leaving such a treasure trove of memories for Camden and I hope you and he have many, many more ice-cream-eating days to talk baseball ahead of you.