Can you? The smell of grills being lit, hundreds of tailgate foods just waiting to be consumed. Can you feel that crispness in the air? It may still be officially summer but it’s there that crisp feeling if you just pay attention. It is here, that most wonderful time of the year. Football season has officially kicked off. I have waited months for this, and as always it was well worth the wait. I had jotted down some thoughts and feelings at different phases of the game this week that I plan on sharing with you but first I need to take care of something a little more serious. Ron Tongaonevai a Defensive Lineman for the University of Utah lost his beautiful wife to a car accident just after the Utes beat Montana State. I would like to express my deep condolences to Ron and his family, you are in my prayers Ron and may Janelle rest in peace.

Before the game: (From my personal journal Tuesday Aug. 30th)

Normally 2 days before the University of Utah kicks off their first game of the season I am bouncing off the walls excited. This year is no different, I am having trouble settling down and sleeping and when I do I dream about the game. I can’t concentrate on anything because there is a game this week. But for the first time in my life I feel apprehensive about a football game. Every time someone mentions Thursday’s game and I find myself getting all fired up and crazy excited, the other cleat drops. Up creeps the fear. You heard it here first, I Misty obsessed with all things Utes football am afraid of a lil football game.

Day of game:

Things have changed a little bit because of my rapid decline in mobility. We used to have a really cool parking spot that was a block away but that is now too far for me to walk. We are now planning on using ADA parking the entire season. The University of Utah’s parking services went over a bunch of options for me and the very best one was for me to park in the actual stadium lot but they warned me I do have to get there early because they only allow something like 50 ADA permits in and they are first come first serve. Fair enough. So we leave to the game way early. I even pulled Scott out of school 45 min early so we could beat traffic and get us a spot. About an hour before we leave, 4 hours before kick off I start feeling ill. Like I’m going to pass out, or throw up or both. I am getting that fear again. I tell Mark I am afraid we wont get a spot, that I wont make it through the game. I can’t begin to tell you how scared I was that I was going to fail at one more thing, my thing at that. Although I can give you some perspective, I let Mark drive up to the stadium and didn’t even complain about his driving once. I clearly wasn’t myself. We got up there in pretty good time considering I wasn’t driving, and there is tons of construction. When we pulled up to the stadium lot we were waved right in, no questions asked, and we got a very good spot. I didn’t bring my wheelchair, I’m not getting into that one right now. Same ol’ fight, different day. But this left me with no choice I had to head into the stadium nearly 2 hours prior to kick off because I couldn’t walk around to the tailgate lot or anywhere else, but I didn’t mind I was in my favorite place in the world. There was a little bit of a hiccup using the elevator for big donors and ADA fans. Although that was not on the University, more like one particular employee that is probably not used to seeing a 20 something couple needing to use that gate.

The Game:  

This was not an intense game. We had it won early and we stopped scoring early. So it is hard to tell exactly how bad I really was. I’ve already explained before that when I’m at a game adrenaline hits me and I’m able to stand, cheer, and do the normal game time activities. Thursday’s game was no different, except for one aspect. I was still in pain. Last season I normally didn’t feel much pain til the end of the game, Thursday I was in pain the whole time. Not a headache but nerve pain on my left side where I go numb. It wouldn’t go away. I’m pretty sure this was a good thing. It helped me remember that I needed to sit down more often than other people. Yes I stand at the football games, normally I can’t but if you can’t understand why I do it at the games you don’t have a passion in your life. Besides the constant pain I was feeling this week, the stairs are now almost impossible. I don’t have that many to go up and down and I am a woman who does not get up to ‘go’ unless it is half time but wow those stairs must have multiplied in the past summer. When I couldn’t lean on the rail to help hold me up I was near tears. I need something on my right side to help stabilize me because my left side is already shut down by half time. The walk back through hell was still the same, at least this time it was shortened. By the end of the game all adrenaline has left and my left side isn’t working at all. Try leaving a stadium of 45,000 + fans while you are literally dragging your left  side. I don’t even care if people stare at me at that point I just want to get to my jeep.

Post game:

As always its worth it. Every ache and pain, every minute that I have to sacrifice to get up there to get a close parking spot. It all doesn’t matter when I see those boys run out on the field. I didn’t get out of bed til 3pm Friday and my nerve pain hasn’t went away at all since it started Thursday, but I would do it all again. Well I mean I am doing it all again.  USC is on Saturday and my dad, my brother Dillon and I are making the trip to LA to cheer on our Utes as they play in their very first Pac 12 game, I wouldn’t miss it for the world. Win or lose. Pain or no pain. This is what I would rather die than give up. If you don’t have something that you feel that way about I suggest you go find it.