Caution: This is a mostly non football related post...sort of. There is a story and perspective hereI felt compelled to share that will eventually lead back to our beloved Steelers...but bear with me. There is some backstory here!
I am the proud father of three great children. My two sons are mostly grown; one is a freshman in college and the other is serving proudly in the U.S. Navy as a search and rescue swimmer. My daughter Isabelle is 12 and in the 6th grade. She is indeed the apple of my eye. She loves the Steelers almost as much as I do...we took her to training camp in 2002 or so and she got an autograph from Hines Ward and Coach Cowher...and she was only three then. She has those items in her room in a place of honor and sometimes takes out the Steelers Bear that Hines signed when we need an extra dose of good luck. She loves to come with me on Sundays and watch the games at our favorite wing place with our friends. She can destroy and order of honey mustard wings in the blink of an eye...and doesn't share well. Wanna' lose a finger..try snatching a wing from her basket without permission. We love this time we get to spend together, and I can honestly say that she is more upset than I am when the Steelers play poorly. I have learned to moderate my frustration and anger so that I can tell her "It's only a game, and we will get them next week " with a straight face..and actually mean
Last March Isabelle began have frequent abdominal pain and stomach aches. Several doctor visits later she was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. If you are not familiar with the disease, I won't go into the specific details, but it is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack the bowels, resulting in painful inflammation of the colon and swelling and irritation in the small bowel. True Crohn's involves both the small and large intestine, where as Ulcerative colitis, or IBD (irritable bowel disease) only involves the colon(large intestine). Anyway,tests showed that Isabelle had an area in her small intestine that was inflamed. We started treating it conservatively, but it did not respond well, so the treatment regimen changed. More steroids, an autoimmune drug added to the mix. Results were good at first, but not as good as we had hoped. She was still having pain, unable to eat and losing weight. She had her third hospitalization in 6 months in early September.....over the Steelers opening weekend. She was doing well that morning and said it was ok if I went to watch the game without her, so I did. We all know how that turned out. She was discharged the next day and we joked that the Steelers stunk because she was stuck in the hospital. It was during that stay that two things happened. The firat is that we met a great nurse that was also a Steelers fan. She and Isabelle were instant friends. The second thing that occured was that the doctors decided that the area in question in here small bowel was getting too narrow and needed removed. She was stable and it could be scheduled for a couple weeks later, so we met the surgeon and scheduled an office visit to set up the surgery.
Two weeks or so later we made our way to the doctors office and scheduled the surgery for October 20th. That visit was about 9 days ago. The evening of the office visit Isabelle began having horrible abdomnal pain and nausea. Back to the hospital...the worst was happeneing..she had developed a bowel obstruction. The doctors wanted to give her a few days to "cool off" and let the inflammation subside before doing the surgery. She made it until Sunday ...the day of the Texans game. SHe was getting worse so they took her in for "emergency" surgery Sunday just before kickoff. I was a wreck. My angel was very sick, and although I have been in the medical profession myself for 20 years, I was a bit besdie myself. My wife suggested i listen to the game on my i-pod to have a little distraction while we waited. So...I tried that. I had the broadcast in one ear as I sat with my wife and waited. I could not tell you what happened. Bill Hillgrove and company sounded like Charlie Brown's parents. For the first time I can remember I simply did not give a hoot what the Steelers were doing. This was so much bigger than football..and it sounds like common sense to say that, but our passion runs deep in my house. It meant nothing since the girl I love the mostest was so sick. Even reading BTSC this past week has not been the same. I still love the team but the reality that there is more to life than football is resonating loudly in my soul.
So Isabelle is out of surgery and doing well now. She had a visitor the other day..a relative of one Mr. James Harrison works at he hospital we are at. The nurse that is the Steelers fan asked her to stop and and say hello. She gave us a big hug and was very gracious. It was nice and Isabelle was sooooo excited! Life really is funny, it was one of the first visitors she had and it made her day. And jsut when we thought it couldn't be better, the same great lady came by and gave Isabelle an autographed picture of James that said "To Isabelle". We both cried. James had surgery yesterday, but still took the time to listen to someone tell him about a little big fan that loved the Steelers that needed a little pick-me-up. A simple act, but it means so much. I am forever grateful the James, and Isabelle and I will be watching our beloved Steelers with a whole new perspective.