Tuesday, July 10, 2012

the heart of the matter

It is always sad when you have to stop an activity that you enjoy due to physical or biochemical reasons.  We try to extend our enjoyment but with only one body per lifetime, we have to weigh the benefits and costs.  I choose not to run road races anymore to extend what's left of my knees.  My best friend, a former gymnast who developed arthritis in her hip in her early twenties, restricts physical activity to golf these days.

It was with sadness that we bid adieu to SB's rugby career, but it was also with a huge sigh of relief.  There have been one too many brain injuries over the span of his lifetime, beginning at the tender age of seven when he fell hard in an ice rink, and most recently when he was sucker punched by a HKFC player named Gus during a ruck. 

It would be easiest if SB withdrew from all sports but unfortunately he is a jock and this would end most of his reasons for living.  Instead, we have agreed that the majority of his unfortunate head knocks have taken place on a rugby pitch so we have eliminated that factor and now his only contact sports are those that are played with a helmet.  A helmet won't keep him from being hit about the head, but it offers some protection.   

My great fear is of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.  For now I refer to his symptoms as post concussion syndrome but this is not quite accurate.  Regardless of when his last head knock occurred, presently even the most innocuous seeming head contact results in him feeling mild symptoms.  His ADHD does not help because I have no idea if his appalling memory and attention span issues are related to one or the other.  I hope it is the ADHD but lately we have had some issues where he cannot recall something even after I remind him, which wasn't a problem before.  I have a fantastic memory and can often recall incidents to him right down to repeating entire snippets of conversation so usually he can be brought around to recall the incident. 

On Sunday his team won the lacrosse league playoffs.  It was a mostly safe match except for a freak accident during a face off when the opposing player accidentally got his stick under SB's helmet.  Fortunately he only yanked SB's head a few times before realizing that what he was doing was dangerous and by then the referees had blown the whistle.  Unfortunately another player came rushing in and whacked SB on the head a few times.  I still have no idea what he was even attempting to accomplish by that move.  Did he think the ball was lodged in SB's helmet?  Was he trying to check his shoulders but was criminally nearsighted?  There were a few nervous moments for me on the sideline but SB continued to play.  He is good about head contact these days, being correctly concerned and vigilant about any change in his level of consciousness.  We can only hope for luck to be on our side in addition to our newly implemented safety measures.  I hope for more years of enjoyment before I have to take him to the dementia ward.  Hopefully by then my neurosis will have developed into full blown psychosis so they will give me a bed next to him.

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