Sometimes you have to fall down to find out how many hands want to help you up. I've fallen a couple of times during my "Ask Vic" years and both times I was lifted by friends I've never met but with whom I've had the great fortune of developing a powerful relationship.
Cancer? Did that. Heart attack? Now I've done that, too. Both times my "Ask Vic" friends overwhelmed me with your outpouring of sincere well wishes and support. Thank you.
On the final day of 2009, a year I will remember for a lot more than the football I covered, I feel more than an obligation to give you the details of my latest fall. I want to tell you because you are my friends.
It started Christmas night with something I can only describe as nuclear heartburn. I'd probably still be choking down Tums if it weren't for my wife, Bonnie. "It's not heartburn, you're having a heart attack," she said.
Eventually I ended up in an operating room at the Baptist Health Center, where a surgical team was awaiting my arrival. Over the next four days I underwent two life-saving procedures. Baptist had previously walked me through cancer, fused my neck, dug out a couple of bad disks in my lower back and now I was discovering a whole new world inside Baptist. I'm talking about one of the most impressive heart hospitals in America. The care was so intense, so exceptional that it made me feel guilty.
I was sent home on Wednesday with these instructions: If it runs, don't eat it, and don't eat its products. Immediately, I knew what it meant: no more hot dogs.
The real burden, of course, falls on Bonnie. Now she not only has to be a mother and special education teacher, she also has to be my personal dietician. She also has all the Christmas decorations to take down, which she knows I wouldn't do even if I hadn't had a heart attack. I really don't know how to repay her. I guess that's why they invented life insurance.
I wanted to go to Cleveland. She knew that and couldn't wait to drop that information on the doctor. "Out of the question," he said.
My new plan is to return to work on Monday. Next week will, however, require an element of deception to defeat my jailer.
You don't come to "Ask Vic," of course, to read about heart attacks. You come here to read about the Jaguars and about football. Personally, I feel the Jaguars have engineered a season on which they can build. The lopsided losses are hurtful but they're trying to send us a message: Hard work, unselfishness and a team-first attitude can't completely overcome a roster that has spent a whole season in repair and still requires more work. In short, I like the Jags' prospects for 2010.
So it is that we are now in the final hours of our celebration of 2009. Seven times we've celebrated victory. The greatest celebration, of course, was a full season to hold our interest. It would've been laughable back in August to think the Jaguars would still be in playoff contention on the final Sunday of the season, which they are.
I don't have any plans for tonight, but that doesn't mean I won't celebrate. Bonnie is planning a delicious Brussels sprouts dinner, and then I'll watch some football and when the ball finally drops, I'll celebrate life and all of those hands that reached down to help pick me up.
Happy New Year's.