Daily Archives: August 1, 2009

Blowouts…The Days (or years) you want to forget…But Need to Learn From

not a happy camperHow I feel after a blowout

It’s no fun to get blown out in any game or life.  Losing sucks no matter how you try to cushion it by saying, “well we almost won” or “gee if only we had…” or “they got lucky, we should have won.” Blowouts on the other hand leave you little to console yourself with.  You lose and you lose badly.  In baseball this usually means that the other team has shredded your pitching staff and that your defense stinks as fielders make fielding and throwing errors, your pitcher throws wild pitches with men on 3rd and your offense dries up like a West Texas lawn in July.   This happened to the Tides Thursday afternoon as they were ripped by Indianapolis 11-3 and it wasn’t that close.  Starter Andy Mitchell who entered the game at 9-2 gave up 8 runs in 4 innings work.  The Tides hitters didn’t come through after a series of comebacks the previous three games.  This happens in the Major Leagues as well. Back on July 22nd the Athletics beat the Twins 16-1; the 18th the Braves beat the Mets 11-0 and back on the 6th the Phillies beat the Reds 22-1.  Being on the receiving end of such a whacking is painful.  The key is what you do with it.  As teams, organizations and individuals everyone will get beaten up once in a while and it takes character and strength to get back out the next day and give it your best when the temptation is to give in to go through the motions and just hope to make it through.

Blowouts in life can come in many ways, health, finances, work situations and relationships.  Sometimes they are our own doing and the results of our choices.  The times I have had the most problems have often been self inflicted because I couldn’t keep my trap shut when I should have either shut up or found a safe place to vent.  In my years in the military and watching baseball I have seen a lot of this.  Likewise there are people who live on the edge and consistently do things that are known to be illegal or unethical within their organization or sport and eventually get caught.  Unfortunately these are not usually the untalented and unmotivated people whose contribution to their team or work environment is to suck up band width and perfectly good oxygen that others could be using to better effect.  The sad thing is that those who push the envelope are often the most talented who have natural ability as well as well as an almost pathological need to be the best.  One only has to take a look at Pete Rose who though his “sins” were not on the playing field, was things that no Manager should ever do.  His attitude about getting caught was an arrogant display of idiocy which disrespected the game that he contributed so much to and soiled his name and reputation.  I hope that he will find redemption in baseball, but the onus is on him to make things right.   Likewise with the myriad of players from the steroid era whose names and reputations are ruined by playing this kind of game.  I am fortunate in that my outbursts did not cost me my career.  There are some I am sure that think little of me because of some of the things I have blown up about over the years and if I could do them over I would do them differently.  But I can’t go back and change them now; they are a part of the tangled tapestry of my life just above the Mendoza Line.

Tuesday night I had the overnight duty and because we were short staffed due to injuries and people being out the duty pager went off incessantly throughout the day.  It was like a day at Parkland without every call being a code, death or trauma.  By noon I felt like a pitcher who was having every batter get a hit, every time I turned around I was rushing off somewhere else.  It is funny when you have a feeling about how a day is going to go.  By noon I knew that this day would be long and painful, just like a game where the opposition scores early and often.  By early evening I was tired, but the hits kept coming and by now almost all were cases out of my comfort zone.

I am by nature a Critical Care, Trauma and Emergency Medicine type of Chaplain.  I am just wired that way.  I will never be a shrink.  I have people all the time ask me or even suggest to me that I get a degree in Counseling or even a Doctorate in Psychology.  Now I do think that I would be a good diagnostician, but I couldn’t handle what my friends who are shrinks have to deal with on a daily basis, give me carnage and traumatic tragedy any day of the week, but not persistent pitter-patter of psychological problems.

Now by shrinks I mean Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Therapists, Clinical Social Workers and Psychiatric Nurses.  I use the term “Shrink” loosely but with great respect and I do not hesitate to consult with them or refer people to them.  I don’t know how they live in that world.  The maelstrom of mentally mangled humanity that my friends deal with on a daily basis would have me in a rubber room.  Thus when I see patients on medical floors I always read their chart and history because if I am going to go in and visit a patient I prefer to know that they are Borderline, Bi-Polar, Schizophrenic, Paranoid, Clinically Depressed, delusional, suicidal or spermicidal before they suck me into their hellish helix of hopelessness.   Knowing these things allows me to stay in my lane, offer appropriate support and actually care for them within my limitations because I do actually have a lot of compassion for the mentally ill or those suffering from even temporary emotional problems.  Heck I have PTSD and some amount of anxiety so Elmer the shrink has his work cut out.  How can I not feel some amount of compassion for those who have even worse situations?  Now there are those who may have some of these conditions who are also maniacally manipulative or pathologically putrid who are not only mentally ill but somewhat or even majorly malevolent.  These folks get to me, I have little compassion for people who even if they have issues are simply rotten people who get off on inflicting pain, emotional, spiritual or physical on those around them, to include their shrinks.

Tuesday night my blowout continued as person after person presented not only needing to see a shrink but wanting to deal with God and all they got was me.  I was beginning to have some words with the Deity Herself about this but was quickly reminded that she loved them too.  Thus my approach was pastoral, supportive and compassionate working within my limitations to ensure that they got the care that they needed without mucking it up for the ER staff or the shrinks.  So of course I was dealing with delusional Paranoid Schizophrenics and Borderline cases all night long.  By the time I trudged up to the on call room a little after 0400 I was exhausted.  My ICU pals were getting a good laugh at my expense and at least I could see the humor in it all.  The alarm rang far too early and when I made my duty turnover I felt like a starting pitcher who had been run over inning after inning for the entire start.  I hadn’t had a night quite like that since my residency at Parkland.  After the turnover I met with my Department Head for a few minutes and he simply said “Steven, go home.”  Even my normal “I can’t leave I have work to do” way of doing life had to agree.  I knew that I was a spent round.

Coming back after getting run over can be difficult and my next day at work I was rested and had a busy but not terribly stressful day and I was back in my element.  No runs, no hits and no errors and no Paranoid Schizophrenics left on base.

How teams come back is interesting. After the drubbing that the Tides took on Thursday they jumped out to an early 4-0 lead against Indianapolis.  Starter Troy Patton gave up two runs and in the 6th Dennis Safrate came on in relief. Sarfate is down on a rehab assignment for the Orioles and got hit hard by the Indians.  The Indians sent 12 men to the plate and scored 9 runs in the 6th off of Sarfate and Russ Wolfe.   Down 5 runs and looking at another beating the Tides found it within themselves to score 5 runs to tie the game in the bottom of the 7th.  Robby Hammock led off the bottom of the 8th with a double, moved to third on a Carlos Rojas sacrifice bunt and was driven in by a Joey Gathright single for the go ahead and ultimately the winning run.  Josh Perrualt got the win pitching 2.1 innings of scoreless relief retiring 7 of the 8 batters that he faced. Jeff Fiorentino had 2 hits an RBI and score 2 runs, Joey Gathright had three hits and the game winning RBI and Victor Diz had 2 doubles and 3 RBIs to help the Tides to victory.

Coming back takes work, no matter what you do. My life, especially the time in seminary until the time I entered the Navy was like a player or team who had a decade of tough seasons.  When I came in the Navy I was able to turn things around.  For the most part I avoid the things that got me in trouble in those years and I have become a lot more skilled at getting through the bumps that I still face.  Fighting back after my post Iraq PTSD collapse has been difficult but things are getting better and my life is coming back into balance.  Things that were impossible for me to deal with even a few months ago are starting to become manageable.  I am coming back and I think that is the key.  Blowouts are no fun and personally I don’t like them, but I am starting to find the takeaways that I need in order to come back.  Isn’t that the point?

Anyway, tonight the Tides start a 4 game series against the Syracuse Sky Chiefs the AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals who have a 55-49 record and are in 2nd place in the International League North. The Tides are now 3 and ½ games out of 1st in the South Division and a game behind Gwinnett for the Wild Card.

Peace, Steve+

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