Monday, January 06, 2014

Feeling lucky ?

I've been feeling lucky again.

I've had my eye on the blanket coverage we had about F1 star Michael Schumacher. You can't have missed that, he's still in hospital in critical condition following a head injury. From what I understand, he was skiing off-piste to help someone out and ended up going head over heels at 40mph ish, hitting a rock on the way down which was too much for his helmet to handle. I think I heard that he was conscious when on the way to the hospital too.

And he's still in critical condition a week later, having had brain surgery to relieve the pressure and to address skull fractures.

Hopefully he'll recover to be the same Michael Schumacher we loved or loathed. To be honest, I was in the loathing camp for a while because he was just That Darn Good. He took championships away from Brit drivers (and I'm a fervent supporter of Brit drivers, hopefully Lewis will come good in next year's Merc). Yep - hopefully he'll be let out of that coma soon, as the same person he was before.

Why does that incident promote feelings of luck in me ?

I've had similar impacts ... three times. Hopefully I'm still the same Sleepypete that I was 10 years ago, although there is that nagging question : "Is this why Ravenwolf left ?" (I don't honestly believe it is). Let's look at the incidents :

Schumacher - rock at maybe 40mph (I get the feeling it was faster) with a helmet on. Skull fractures and brain injuries. Still in hospital. Ouch !

Nose Job 1 (my first hit) - cricket ball at 60mph (ish), no helmet. Hit me in the eye, with my glasses saving me from more major injury. I stayed conscious but got helped off the field and was carted off to hospital. Suffered memory problems for maybe 18 months afterwards.

Happy Helmet (second hit) - cricket ball at probably 70mph (quicker bowler!), hit the helmet on the grill. Without the helmet, I'd have been hit maybe above the right ear and would have been in hospital again for sure. Probably would have been knocked out by that one - it's a thin, sensitive part of the skull. I kept batting throughout the game (mostly because the bowler that hit me was nasty and probably would have run through our team) and only came off the field after we won. I was happily absorbing the nastiest bowling and hitting singles before watching the guys at the other end murder the bowling. Oh and I nearly threw up in the changing room after the game.

Almost-Dentist (third hit) - cricket ball at maybe 60mph again, no helmet. Hit me in the gob. I'm seriously lucky there not to have lost teeth. Lots of blood though, enough that I should have gone off to the hospital to get a stitch. I lost my sense of hunger for 2 weeks after that impact and was woozy enough to take the Friday off work (got hit on the Wednesday).

Is it fair comparing a cricket ball to a rock ? Yes and no. The cricket ball is hard enough (definitely in a match ball) but it's completely round. I suspect the rock that got Schumacher was pointy enough to break the helmet.

I did have long term effects after getting hit without the helmet but I was very lucky to only have my nose broken. I dread to think what would have happened if I wore contacts ... That's a scary thought for that first hit.

What am I really trying to say here ?

If you know someone who's suffered a very recent head injury, keep an eye on them. Quietly check to see if they're still all in there. They may not realise themselves how bad the effects are. With my two helmet-less incidents, I certainly didn't realise the memory problems until a few years later and I only noticed the inability to feel hunger state when :
a) hearing earthquakes from my tummy with no feelings of "need food"
b) nearly bursting after finishing a big pizza
(weird huh ?)

If someone's had a bump on the head, their condition can change very rapidly too. An initial state of concussion (bruising from the marbles being rattled) can change into compression (swelling that's trapped in by the skull) very quickly. Thankfully while concussion is common, compression is less so. Compression is however, extremely dangerous. There's a triage saying : "Treat the quiet ones first" and it's partly targeted at injuries like compression.

I think I upset someone a few years ago. She came back from an Xmas break and admitted to banging her head on a door handle and was sitting on the floor out of it for a bit with no one to see if she was ok. That triggered a definite Protect instinct and I probably told a few more people than she'd have liked me to. People I knew would keep an eye on our girl to make sure she was ok. I very rarely betray confidences like that but ... it's a head injury. Someone I care about quite deeply could have turned seriously ill.

With my two bad incidents, Ravenwolf had that eye on me the first time but for the second - I felt a bit neglected. Unloved maybe ? That might be unfair. I've always been incredible at hiding the symptoms when something's affecting me and for that second incident, I was functioning perfectly well until the Friday when I let myself settle into a clouded dazed state.

I must peek at what I put here in the days around that second incident. It wasn't as bad as the first, the neurological symptoms only lasted about a fortnight whereas I think my memory is still affected.

But - I do still feel lucky. Incidents like Schumacher, the Paul Williams paralysis (club cricketer) and Mark Boucher's (South African wicket keeper) career ending eye injury show that it could have been much, much worse.

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