6:58 PM PDT, March 26, 2013
What an experience it has been.
When it came time to recuperate from my mini-stroke or whatever it was, the family went to Las Vegas.
They said it had been really tough on them.
Don't get the wrong idea. It wasn't as if they weren't thinking of me. They brought me along so they'd have the money to eat, drink and feel better again.
The Bagger must have been really affected by what happened; he was getting his beer, six bottles to a bucket as if he might not have anyone buy beer for him again.
I was touched.
I left the hospital in Arizona a few days earlier to spend time with the family. I hear people say that all the time: I want to spend more time with my family.
Are they nuts?
The family thought it would be a good idea if G.P. took the three grandchildren to breakfast at an IHOP, where you have to wait for an open table. Arizona's version of "Survivor."
Ever try to wipe syrup off a 3-year-old's hand with a paper napkin? And she has a twin sister who also likes pancakes.
Once you've heard a 3-year old ask, "Are you better?" and a few minutes later, "Are you better?" and a few minutes later, "Are you better?" and a few minutes later … let's just say I'm sympathetic now to coaches who become irritated when asked a question repeatedly, and I won't be offended if they want to give me a timeout.
The remarkable thing I learned about getting sick is that a lot of people were still rooting for me to recover, including UCLA football Coach Jim Mora, who emailed best wishes.
Sandy Koufax called. He said he didn't miss me in Arizona because he was enjoying the company of finer writers. He remains the funniest recluse I've ever met, and when you think about that sentence, just how many recluses do you meet in life?
Jeff Kent emailed: "I thought I was going to be the first one to knock you on your ass. Guess I was wrong again — I hate that."
Then in a warm and fuzzy moment by Kent standards, he added, "I'll be watching for the next chapter in your life, so write it with two feet on the ground and not six feet under."
Lane Kiffin texted. He was concerned he would be blamed for letting the air out of my spring-training plans.
Pat Haden texted but never indicated who he thinks will last longer, Page 2 or Kiffin.
Never heard from Arte; he must be really angry.
Never heard from Jim Buss, and I thought I was his only supporter.
Never heard from Dan Guerrero, but apparently Ben Howland did.
Don Mattingly and Vinny Del Negro reached out because they are in the final year of their contracts and could obviously relate.
Our life-insurance guy left a message. He said he has a perfect record in 2013. He hasn't paid off a single death claim yet and by the tone of his voice I got the impression he would be really upset if I hurt his record.
The bosses at the newspaper said I should not hurry to return. I wonder what they meant by that.
I received so many heartfelt messages, leading me to believe none of them were from USC fans. But you know, I thank everyone who was so kind.
I was so moved by how wonderful people can be, I almost decided to never be tough on folks again.
But then I remembered Mike D'Antoni was still the Lakers' coach.
This week has been a good reminder how many people deal with far more serious stuff in their lives, and do so every day. There are so many heroes out there.
Maybe a newspaper should have a daily section dedicated to such heroes.
I wouldn't call myself a hero, but I've been told I will have to eat chicken for the rest of my life. So I'm right there.
Looking back, I have only one question: The family scolded me for not calling 911 after collapsing in a hotel room. So why did they elect to drive me to Las Vegas with no cell service available much of the way?
Once we were in Vegas, Jay Rood, the head bookmaker for the MGM/Mandalay Bay properties, offered his NCAA tournament locks.
He never mentioned they were sure losers, saying later, "I was just trying to show you it doesn't matter if you win or lose because you won't be taking it with you.
"Now don't you feel better?"
Back at home now, as Dodgers trainer Sue Falsone did in getting me to the hospital, Dr. Raman Sankar, Pam Henderson and Dr. Doojin Kim pooled their talents to help.
Dr. Kim did so on behalf of the people of Los Angeles, scheduling a battery of tests for Monday so I won't be able to cover the Dodgers' season opener.
I'd imagine Dr. Kim will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at a game as soon as the Dodgers hear about the break they're getting.
As for those who emailed to say I will have to go easy on the Dodgers now for getting their help, sorry, but I have no plans of dying any time soon.
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