I should be Quarantined right Now!
I was sitting there at Tropicana Field last night right after the Tampa Bay Rays victory over the Boston Red Sox and a friend of mine, who is an ex-corpsman in the military and a current St. Pete Fire Department EMT told me I looked like liquid garbage. Always nice to hear such sweet nothings like that from a cute brunette. But she was right. I was suffering from something that has been growing and growing for the last few weeks. It really has been overtaking a huge chunk of my life inside and outside of this same building.
So she sat there a minute hearing me chatter about the weird things that have been happening to my body in the last several weeks. Of the wild bouts of insomnia that have me watching replays of the game until almost 5 am in the morning every day, or the night sweats after a bad loss, or even a close ballgame that could have gone either way at any time. I told her how my reaction time to foul balls was getting uncommonly sloth-like, and if it was not hit To Me anymore, I just watch it sail even a foot over my head.
And she just sat there and nodded her head. I went on about the slowness of thoughts that did not revolve around baseball, and the difficulty I was having prioritizing even simple events like laundry and lunch at the same time. That I turned my cellphone to silent to keep my little world secure from friends in Boston and New York from ruining my little Utopia right now. And I complained that for some reason only three things seemed to matter to me right now, because my basic system of doing even routine task seems to be centered around what time the gates open at the Trop.
And still she just sat there listening like a $200/hour shrink with a spoiled rich kid on the leather couch. I even went on to tell her about my new found preoccupation with minimal issues like my special free parking place near the stadium, or my routine of walking to and from the stadium a certain way, and not deviating from that path a single step, even if there was a taxi or car in the way.
And that I was battling a huge bout of indecision on simple decisions like if I was going to have the Cuban sandwich, or got “hog-wild” and stack the loaded nachos with a bevy of jalapenos and hot sauce. That that my basic decision making process was being bogged down by a fatigue that made me not even consider anything out of the ordinary or new right now in my routines or my patterns. And that in the bitter end, even after a huge win lately, I was battling a huge mountain of fatigue and restlessness that had never entered my life before.
Well, through all of this she just sat there listening and mentally jotting down the symptoms and the causes and doing that quick analogy that people who work at Emergency Medical Techs do on their daily jobs. You could almost see the wheels turning as she was eliminating mental illnesses and adding psychological responses and cause and effects that could be the source of this ailment that was bogging down my physical being right now. Then she cleared her throat and made the announcement of what I needed to do now.
“First thing “ she stated boldly, “You have to understand that this aliment has been around for a very long, long time. That the cause of your problem is not physical in nature, but can be processed through your body at a rate that will boggle its usual senses and abilities. That your internal clock right now is being sped up to an alarming rate by your visual stimulation brought on by your emotional pull towards the subject matter at hand.”
She then began to laugh and smack me in the noggin a few times. But she still had not revealed what the prognosis was about all of this. But was she just teasing with me, knowing that I might not be able to handle the truth, or was she waiting for the nerves and the mind games I was already playing in my own head to swirl a bit longer and throw me into a mental bowl of mush right now. No, she was sitting there trying to see if my orbiting electrodes could pick out the aliment by itself before revealing the cosmic truth.
“Dude, You really can not figure this out by yourself?” She said while still chuckling and devouring the last sips of her cold, icy beverage. I nodded a very confirming negative and she again began to even chuckle louder. “Darling, you my dear friend are suffering from a odd-cultural ailment that has plagued man every since the cavemen picked up two sticks and began fighting and a crowd began to watch them. You are suffering a urbanite based type of battle fatigue that effects people who follow a particular sports team and live and breath on their outcomes. You are beginning to show extreme signs of Post-Part um Playoff Disorder”
And the news shocked me. Here I was a strong-willed guy who had never fallen into that trap for years and years following my sports teams, but for some reason this season I fell face-first into the abyss. She saw my face go blood-less and white for a moment until I had the look of a man saved by the grace of god, or maybe by a errant throw by the shortstop to first. I finally got it. I finally understood what was going on., and it all made sense to me now.
But still there was the method of prognosis that was missing there. There was a final sense of aliment conclusion that was mildly empty here. what was the cure, or was there a cure? Could this be treated with kindness, or did I have to go through a rapid decompression of emotions and thought to again function like a normal human being? Or did I just have a fever for some Cowbell? She sat there with a sly smile and a simple look on her face that told me I already knew the answer.
“Think about it this way. Last season the tide and the final result of a playoff push was decided early on in the season. The stress and the emotional attachment could be stretched out over the course of the season with no sudden pushes and floods of emotional attachment until October, but in a month’s time the symptoms could be masked with ease. What you need to do now is get up out of your seat, turn around three times and do the “Chicken Dance” for me.” I sat there for a moment before rising from my seat and slowly remembering the moves of that classic dance did it for a few moments.
And you want to know something, it felt better. “For the last few months you have been sitting more in your seat, not celebrating like the rest of the people in the stadium. You have internalize the stress, struggle and the fight for some reason. You have taken your outer fandom and turned it within yourself forgetting your love for celebrating outwards and showing your pride with this team. But last, but not least, you have got to again not hinge every emotion and thought on the outcome of these next few home games. Like goes on without the Rays sweetie, and so do you!”
And with that we both began to have one of those belly-busting laughs that you can have with great friends. She saw that the color was coming back into my skin and the flush look on my face was draining back into the normal peach-color that formed by face. Maybe I needed to hear it from someone else. Maybe I needed a reassurance that others were going through this same mode of illness that was effecting them to, maybe I did just need more cowbell in a sense.
I then asked he what we should call this odd aliment that had taken over my life and my entire thought process for so long. I wanted to attach some kind of name or even an effect to this illness that was causing so much sleep-less nights and sloth-like days. I needed to somehow throw a verbiage up in my mind to finally get a label on it all and move forward. The words out of her mouth seemed to come out in slow motion and my eyes and ear hung on every syllable and vowel until it finally wrestled in my eardrums. “It’s very simple what you got………..You got Playoff Fever and you will not be the first to show these symptoms…or the last.“