The last week in August, my favorite-most ballplayer, Anthony Rizzo, got two home runs. His 29th and 30th of the year, and the season's not over yet. To put that in perspective, he got 22 last year. So he's doing pretty well with the bat.
But there's another aspect to his job. He's very proud of his work as a defender, and he noticed back tightness when when he bent or reached for the ball.
This is nothing new for Rizz. He's been plagued by back trouble for about six years now. When he was a Cub -- as the Good Lord always intended him to be! -- we went to the same chiropractor, which is how I know it was treated with massage, adjustments, and yoga.
But now he's a Yankee. New York is fighting for their position as #1 in
the AL East. And so a decision was made during that fateful last week in
August. When the Yankees finished their series in LA, Rizz would stay
behind to be treated by a "world renowned spinal surgeon." (I'm quoting the Yankees press release.)
This expert gave Anthony Rizzo an epidural to relieve the back spasms. It went wrong. An otherwise healthy 32-year-old man with back spasms ended up with days of headaches so severe he was unable to move.
It's called a cerebrospinal fluid leak, meaning his spinal fluid was leaking into his brain. He had the migraine to end all migraines. Manager Aaron Boone confirmed to the media that Rizz was unable to move and had to remain flat on his back -- which, by the way, no longer hurt. Excuse me for not feeling like congratulating the "world renowned spinal surgeon."
This went on for days. The New York Yankees doctor prescribed total bed rest for a couple days, hoping the headaches would subside on their own. They did not.
Anthony Rizzo could not move. His spinal fluid was leaking into his brain. He was at risk for meningitis. This was way bigger than baseball.
Friday, when Aaron Boone met the press, he said nothing coherent about Rizz's condition. I was sure this meant it was even more serious than we knew. It was.
Friday he had a blood patch. Anthony Rizzo's own blood was drawn from his arm and injected into the spot on his spine where the
botched epidural was administered. This procedure can take up to four hours. Boone didn't want to comment on this until they knew it was successful. It was. The pressure around his spinal cord was restored and his own blood sealed the leak.
Saturday, Rizz was back in the dugout for the first time in 10 days. His face is puffy (likely steroids) and he can't play. After all, he's been completely immobile for more than a week. But he couldn't wait to get back to his teammates. And he'll be OK. The Yankees are hoping he will be able to return to the field next weekend when they play the Brewers.
Doctors are supposed to help us. Yet this "world renowned spinal surgeon" butchered my baby.
Bad things aren't supposed to happen to good people. Anthony Rizzo is good. So far this year -- in addition to 30 home runs -- he has raised more than $900,000 to help families battling pediatric cancer. Just think about all the patients and parents he has been able to help with rent/mortgage relief, meal allowances, gas cards and parking vouchers. All the toys, personal notes and hospital visits. All the hot meals for nurses, orderlies and other hospital workers. Shouldn't that inoculate him in some way from this medical horror?
One more week, though, and he should be OK. He should be fine for the playoffs.
Should, should, should. None of this should have happened.
I want to see this again. Soon. This is everything.