During the last weekend of March, I went to spring training in Arizona for the first time in my life. I had tickets for both a Cubs game and a Giants game. Upon considerable reflection, the person I have chosen as my spring training hero is not Buster Posey, Anthony Rizzo or Madison Bumgarner, but my wife, Sandy.
Sandy showed more resilience than any of the ballplayers, because on the second of five days she was in Arizona she had a nasty fall that broke two of her teeth, caused severe abrasions on her face, and bruised both of her knees. Despite her pain, she showed a strong spirit of spring training determination and perseverance.
It all started uneventfully enough when Sandy accompanied me to a reception for alumni of my college, now called Benedictine University, held at its Mesa, Ariz., campus.
Sandy’s and my visit to the campus was just the beginning of what was a long-planned weekend primarily of watching baseball, first the Cubs and later the Giants. But then Sandy ran into a bump in the road, literally.
After the reception, while walking from our car in a Mesa restaurant’s parking lot to the restaurant’s entrance, Sandy tripped over a speed bump and fell face first onto the asphalt. (Don’t ask what a speed bump was doing in a relatively small parking lot.)
It took less than three seconds for Sandy to go from fully upright to fully prone, and it made a mess of her vacation.
Seeing her fall was an unnerving experience. I gasped, knowing what a painful outcome it would be. She had fallen so fast and so hard she didn’t have time to catch herself with her hands.
Sandy’s face took the brunt of her fall. It turned out to be even worse than I thought. Blood was flowing from around her mouth and nose, and her first words were, “I broke my teeth.”
A young man named Jacob passing by stopped to help, and while he stood over Sandy I pulled our rental car next to her. While Jacob and another couple and I helped Sandy into the car, I asked him where the closest hospital was, and he said “Banner.”
I put Banner Hospital into my Google Map and headed there while Sandy used two of my handkerchiefs to try to slow the bleeding. After a 30-minute drive across Mesa we pulled up to the emergency room, and a helpful hospital person came to the car with a wheelchair and rolled Sandy into admission.
A nurse replaced the handkerchiefs with towels as Sandy and I sat in the waiting room until an ER room was available. After about an hour Sandy was wheeled into a room and helped into a bed. And then we waited. We both worried about broken or fractured bones. As a precaution the nurse had fitted her with a neck brace.
Sandy’s nurse, Leonor, looked after her tenderly and among other acts of kindness removed small pieces of asphalt from her hands. Sandy was then taken to imaging, where she had a CT scan of her neck and head and an X-ray of her knee.
After a long wait Dr. Sandifer, a friendly woman physician, came in, removed the neck brace and told her that the imagining revealed no breaks or fractures. She continued to examine Sandy and found all her motor skills and reflexes were good. She also tended to Sandy’s lip, removing from it more small pieces of asphalt and deciding that it didn’t need stitches.
The doctor concluded by applying antiseptic and gauze to Sandy’s wounds, giving her tetanus and pain relieving shots and writing a prescription for pain pills. A little after midnight, five hours after entering ER, Sandy was discharged and I drove her back to the hotel room.
Throughout the ordeal, Sandy and I talked, reflected and prayed. The next day she stayed in our hotel room and recovered while I went to the Cubs game in Mesa. But the day after she summoned the energy to attend the Giants game in Scottsdale, cheering her team to come from behind to win, from the right field bleachers where she could clearly see one of her favorite players, Hunter Pence.
There’s no doubt Sandy was my “most valuable player” of spring training. Her courage and resilience made her a superstar in my book.
Comments on the writings of John Spevak, a California Newspaper Publishers Association first-place award recipient for 2014, are encouraged, and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.