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Enforced ‘vacation’

Volatile appendix picks right time to act up

March 24, 2012
By Steve Brownlee - Journal Sports Writer ( , The Mining Journal

I've been telling my friends and coworkers that my body made it a whole four months into my 50s before starting to fall apart.

After I hit that big milestone birthday in December, I was rather relieved when I didn't suddenly go gray overnight - of course, there isn't a whole lot left on top to change color - or that I didn't come up lame, go blind or lose my reaction time while driving down the road.

Shoulda' knocked on wood, ya big dummy.

That's what I'm telling myself after going in for an emergency appendectomy at Marquette General Hospital just over a week ago, on Thursday night.

And wow, did I miss a whole lot of sports news in the interim.

Except that actually, I didn't. You see, after going nearly six straight months without a night off, I actually got to watch sports on television while recuperating. And I still kept up with the tail end of our local winter sports season, too.

Now, you might wonder about my seven-nights-a-week claim. Yes, I like to think of myself as a dedicated sports reporter, but no, I don't work without a break.

I am busy, though, just about every night when you add in bowling leagues on Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

As my teams can tell you, particularly Pat Gingras of the Republic Memorials "R.I.P." team, I almost never make all four of those nights, and I don't want to. But whatever nights I'm free, I "volunteer" to take a spot on the roster. Tough work, I bet you're thinking.

The only real sacrifice is never getting to see the Red Wings, Pistons, Spartans, Wolverines or assorted other squads play their games live on the boob tube. Sometimes I can watch if one of those teams is starting late out on the West Coast, but even that isn't possible on many work nights.

But my enforced "vacation" for a week caught me up on college basketball big-time. Not to mention all the big news coming out of the NFL about Bounty-Gate, the signing of Peyton Manning and trading of Tim Tebow.

My boss, Journal sports editor Matt Wellens, didn't say anything when I called in sick on the first day of the NCAA tournament, but kidded me a bit about my timing when I called him back a few hours later to tell him not only would I miss a day, but closer to a week as I was getting ready to go under the knife.

As terrifying as that might sound, it worked out for the best as I didn't have much time to think about it - from the time I called my physician, Dr. John Wallace, to ask what I should do about my abdominal pain, through his exam, a CT scan at MGH, getting checked into my room and having the surgery was a whole six or seven hours.

Getting in quick, I'm told, helped things go well as my surgeon, Dr. Gregory Bambach, was able to do the operation laproscopy-style, with just three little cuts on my lower belly. My appendix hadn't burst or become perforated, which would've complicated the matter many times over.

And for my first overnight stay in a hospital since 1961 - yes, when Mom gave birth to me - everybody's efficiency and friendliness just blew me away.

I won't bore you with thank-yous all over place other than to say I can see what hypochondriacs see in spending lots of time in a hospital being well taken cared of.

My initial plan today was to give you my take on all the sports news that's occurred in the past week and a half. But heck, you people probably know as much or more than I do.

I'm just now catching up to the rest of the world.

Steve Brownlee can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is



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