In October of 2016, I had stroke.
If you’ve been with me for the 10 years I’ve been writing I’ve been pretty open about my health issues of 2016. From my cancer diagnosis right before our daughter’s graduation to my stroke, I’ve held nothing back because why. This avenue helps me to be able to talk about in “real” life, so it works.
Anyway, I had my stroke and there were a few things I noticed immediately after the stroke:
- My handwriting got REALLY bad. Over the last five years, I’ve worked my way back to kinda bad (where I was pre-stroke), but it was awful. I still have a check registery (my wife rolls her eyes) and it was a task to read what I wrote.
- I get stuck on words. That still happens today, but with much frequency. My wife notices when this happens (and it tends to annoy her, but she’s my rock, so she also get a pass because I am annoying) and will help me out. I also will blank on names. It makes me angry when I call one student another name or look at somone and just cannot call them by name. So frustrating!
- In emotional situations, I cry WAY more easily than before. A commerical, sad/emotional part of a movie or TV show, it’s freaking water works. My wife, who has not had a stroke, is also a crier, but when I do and she doesn’t, get who gets made fun of?
This past weekend, we took our annual trip to Iowa City to watch the Iowa football team battle Minnesota for a bronze pig called “Floyd of Rosedale”. Now, I’m not going into details about Floyd (I’ll let Wikipedia do that), however, it is worth noting that Rival.com called Floyd “the top rivalry trophy in college football”, which obviously is true! The last two times Floyd has shown up in Iowa City have been rush the field moments, and, in 2019, I had to pull my wife out of the way as the Iowa offensive linemen paraded the 98-pound pig right past us! But I digress.
With Covid, we saw no in-person games in 2020, so we were excited to be down among the throngs of people to see this game. The pre-game festivities outside the stadium were a bit muted, which I’m guessing are still a result of the pandemic, but there were still tons of tailgating, drunk people, footballs being tossed, and people dressed to the nines in their Hawkeye apparel. We got our tickets via a StubHub kind of site, so we ended up behind the Minnesota bench in the third row. All in all, some pretty sweet seats! We saw two of the pig plays of the game happen right in front of us, so we were very happy as our supplier of seats from past years was no longer able to get us tickets. These worked out well and now we have to decide if it’s worth season tickets of our own or not! But that’s another blog.
The pregame has a group of things that happen. One of them is actually getting the team on the field. As the team comes down the tunnel from the locker room, Back in Black by AC/DC comes on over the speakers and the crowd goes crazy. They can see the players and those first notes just mean that game time is that much closer. This is followed by the introduction of Enter Sandman by Metallica and as that they hit that climax at 58 seconds, the fight song starts and the Swarm comes out of the tunnel. It gives me chills thinking about it. Well, it had been two years since I’d seen this. We’ve been heading down to Iowa games for so many years that it just seemed that it had become almost a habit. We’ve been on field after huge wins (see 2019 Floyd) and walked out muttering after some ugly losses (see 2018 Northwestern). But we’ve been there. And to not be there last year was much harder than I guess I realized.
So Saturday was also Military Appreciation Day, so everyone is jazzed up of that display. Big flag, fly over by four F-35 (freaking awesome), and emotion of celebrating those in uniform is always awesome to see.
Stadium is getting packed, people are looking towards the jumbotron, and those first few guitar sounds come out over the speakers and the place goes nuts. You see the players moving down the tunnel and the anticipation goes through the roof.
And I start tearing.
I know, right? Just the emotion of being back in a place like historic Kinnick Stadium, in Iowa City, a place that truly feels like home, having spent time with my wife’s family, knowing I’ll get to see my brother the next day, it all just came bubbling up. No, I was just sobbing, but I had a moment for sure. When Metallica came on, same damn thing. I blame it solely on the stroke because, I mean, what else could it have been?? 🙂
After that, joy. I got to heckle the Minnesota coach (he was close enough he had to hear me *eye roll*), the banter with the Minnesota fans around us was just that, banter which was fun, but best of all, Floyd stayed home another year.
Emotions. They are a tricky thing. Feel them, acknowledge them, then let them go.
Except when it’s beating Minnesota. Those emotions will hand around until next September! 🙂