Monday, October 27, 2014

Getting to Know Me Part 1

     I never thought at the age of twenty-four that I would have a child, be engaged, and have multiple sclerosis. Little did I know what was in store for me upon graduating from Georgetown.  I created The Hardwood Aquarium because I want to share my experiences, family, thoughts, and of course basketball with you.  

So, let me begin with how it started...

     The summer of 2011 was different than any other summer for me because of the NBA lockout. This meant there would be no basketball played until the owners and players came to agreements on many different topics. With a troublesome negotiation process between the two sides and no end in sight, I decided to play my first professional season in Turkey.

Home Game vs Trabszonspor
     Other than the obvious cultural changes moving from Washington D.C. to Turkey and the many obstacles I was faced with on and off the court, I had a very successful rookie season. We weren't winning as much as I wanted, but most nights I was pleased with my performance.  In big games I had some of my best moments. During the season, I averaged 13 points per game and 5 assists, which are solid numbers for a rookie. As the season went on we had three head coaches in a period of three months and eventually re-hired the first coach.

     I know it sounds crazy, but thats just how unpredictable this business can be at times. 

     After the first coach was rehired, things became difficult since we did not see eye-to-eye in the first place.  Two weeks passed and at the end of one of our practices our coach made us run sprints.  This was typical for our practices, so it was no big deal to me.
     I thought to myself, "Just crush it, beat everybody, and you are done."
     But, this time was different...

Practicing in Turkey 2011

    I ran the sprints and won as usual. While sprinting, my foot gave out and I initially thought I rolled my ankle. I thought about stopping, but my pride got the best of me- like most athletes.  I didn't want to say anything to the trainers because its nothing worse than an "athlete" running and spraining his ankle with nobody around. 
  It just doesn't make sense. 

     So, I went home and continued to feel pain in my right foot.  I woke up the next morning not thinking about my foot and went in early to the gym to shoot.  After being on the court for 20 minutes, my foot went completely numb and eventually the whole right side of my body was numb. I told the coaches and they immediately sent me to the doctor. After my appointment I still had no diagnosis and my symptoms were only getting worse they sent me to a specialist. 

     After further examination, I was clinically diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  

     According to Google; MS is a chronic, typically progressive disease involving damage to the sheaths of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord, whose symptoms may include numbness, impairment of speech and of muscular coordination, blurred vision, and severe fatigue. 

     Imagine being a twenty-two year old and somebody telling you this!  I was shocked, didn't know what questions to ask, how long I would be affected, or what medicine I would have to take.  I knew ZERO about this debilitating disease and reading the internet did not help.  I tried to remain calm and figure out what would be the next steps.  So, of course- like any one else I was ready to come back to the states IMMEDIATELY!! But, because my symptoms were so severe I wasn't able to leave for another 2 weeks and to decrease the pain I was injected with cortisone shots twice a day.

Finally, my symptoms decreased enough for me to fly back home and start the next chapter of my life.   

Check back for part two of getting to know me.