Saturday, June 16, 2012

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My story about C.J. Wilson and how he's impacted my life and enhanced my positive mental attitude while enduring some tough trials.

By Molly Holloway - AngelsWin.com Feature Writer

On Tuesday, June 28, 2011, C.J. Wilson got his first MLB hit, a standup triple, while playing an interleague game against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park. It was the first triple by a Rangers pitcher since Kenny Rogers had one against the then Florida Marlins on June 11, 2005.

While I had followed his career for years, I never knew anything about his personal life, and had never seen him pitch live. I went back to my hotel room after the game and typed his name in a search engine.  Little did I know my life was about to change forever.

I was in Houston to see a specialist who treats Multiple Sclerosis, which I was diagnosed with at 20 years of age. My symptoms had gradually become worse over the previous 18 months and on June 24th my worst fears were realized; my MS had moved from relapsing/remitting to the secondary/progressive stage. The progression is common for someone my age, but I'd still hoped that it would somehow pass me by.

I've always tried to be a positive person, despite my illness.  I've always maintained a "straightedge" lifestyle (abstaining from tobacco, alcohol, illicit drugs and promiscuous sex) and since my diagnosis have sought out alternative therapies to manage my MS.  I've refused to take pain medication and muscle relaxers, choosing to deal with the pain and muscle spasms with meditation and biofeedback.  Now I was looking at having to possibly make different choices, which really went against the grain, no matter how medically necessary they were.  There are several different medicines used to prevent and treat the symptoms of MS, each having varying degrees of terrible side effects.  It truly felt like the end of the world.  For the first time in my life I considered ending it all.

I stayed in Houston for the next few days undergoing tests to further determine my prognosis.  Being a lifelong Texas Rangers fan, I decided to go to the Astros game because they were playing the Rangers.  I didn't even know who was pitching that night.  I was numb, and had just been phoning it in for days.  I couldn't really tell you what happened before Mr. Wilson hit his triple.  All of a sudden, there he was on 3rd base, doing the claw and antlers with a huge smile on his face and I found myself smiling back; something I hadn't done in days- maybe weeks.

Picture of C.J. Wilson's triple, rounding second base heading for third.
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After that, I began actively watching the game.  Mr. Wilson was hit in the foot in his previous at bat in the second inning and on the tip of his pitching hand in the fourth. The second shot forced him to adjust his pitching plan, as it left him unable to throw his sinker, a pitch he relies on heavily.  He now had to rely on the defense more. C.J. gave up two runs and seven hits in seven innings to win his fourth straight decision.

Later, as I sat reading about Mr. Wilson's similar devout Taoist, straightedge lifestyle, and his promotion of maintaining a positive mental attitude, I felt the first glimmer of hope, something I hadn't felt in months.  Maybe, just maybe it wasn't the end of the world after all.

Mr. Wilson ended the season 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA, leading the Rangers to their 2nd World Series in as many years.  Wilson entered free agency following the World Series and signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for 5 years and $77.5 million and has done quite well for the Angels so far this season with a 7-4 record and a 2.30 era. 

And me?  Well, I signed up for a Twitter account.  After a couple of months of reading C.J. Wilson's (@str8edgeracer) #pma tweets that glimmer of hope grew into a full-blown resurrection.  I began following people I found to be positive and eventually began sending positive tweets myself. With a few exceptions I've sent at least one #pma (positive mental attitude) tweet a day to Mr. Wilson.  Sometimes he retweets or replies to them, which totally makes my day.  When I'm having a bad day I watch the video of him hitting that triple and see that wonderful smile again.  I read  some of his past #pma tweets to remind myself to remain positive.  And then I adjust my game plan, just as he did that night in Houston. 

I am a fairly new Angels fan, having been converted from a Texas Rangers fan while following Mr. Wilson's career.  I have traveled approximately 10,000 miles this season, attending a game at Spring Training in Tempe, as well as games in New York City, Anaheim, Arlington and Denver. I'm very much hoping to attend more games this season and write more articles for AngelsWin.com about C.J. Wilson and my Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Thank you for reading and letting me share my story.
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