Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Counting my luck

Updates - Phil Hughes sadly passed away on the morning after I wrote this post and I deem the original pic I used to be in very poor taste considering that. So I've included a few updates ...

I've had my injuries and broken bones over the years with the cricket but there's times you have to say :

I've been very lucky.

The cricketing world has been shaken thoroughly with the news about Phil Hughes (bbc news link). What happened ? He got hit on the head by a bouncer* which hit him on the back of the head, where the helmet apparently didn't protect. He's still in a coma, after being resuscitated on the field and air evac'd to hospital. Edit - Sadly he passed away the morning after I wrote this post.

*A bouncer is a ball bowled such that it bounces preferably throat height, aim - shake up the batsman and try and force them into a mistake. I used to love these, as they fed my best shot. It's a balance of danger to easy scoring. I used to wear a floppy hat as a target to try and provoke short balls. Feelings of youthful invulnerability and all that.

Why do I count myself lucky ?

I've been hit on the head by cricket balls no less than three times. Twice, I wasn't wearing a helmet. I think it's changed my personality in unquantifiable ways but ... no more than a personality grows and changes as we mature. I do know that I continue to have effects on memory and vocabulary. I have trouble finding occasional words and in turning short term memory into permanent memory. And I used to have a legendary memory for silly facts and procedures.

Three times ?

First time - Nose Job 1. I top edged the ball and it went straight for my head. My technique held and I watched the ball all the way, into my right eye ... I was still wearing glasses, which probably saved me from more serious damage. Instead of the ball going into my eye and breaking the orbit, my glasses spread the impact around my eye with the damage being just a badly broken nose. I couldn't breathe out of my nose until it was fixed in Nose Job 2 (hospital this time).

Can you imagine if I'd been wearing contacts ? I shudder to think what the effect of a cricket ball hitting a contact lens and then the eye and socket would have been. Sure, there's the neurological damage ... but I still have sight in both eyes.

Lasting damage - the nosebleeds are all gone, I can breathe through the nose properly and while I know I'm unquantifiably ... different to how I was before, the amnesia and false memories phase only lasted maybe 18 months. But I don't know if the occasional flash-memory-sight of a cricket ball 6 inches away from my eye is a real memory or reconstructed. However, I could remember the layout of Southmead A and E when I went back there 8 years later.

Second time ...

This was quite a nasty game. From what I remember of it, both sides were getting pretty sparky and none sparkier than one of the opposition bowlers. It was played on an artificial wicket, which tended to be fast and quite spiteful with the bounce it gave the ball. One player got seriously hurt in that game (not me), by that same sparky bowler too.

The wicket keeper is the guy that stands behind the stumps, usually a little way back. He catches anything that the batsmen miss. It's quite dangerous as under the right conditions, the ball will swing sideways through the air. Not by much, but by enough to move the ball from the palm of the hand to the tips of the fingers. I've dislocated both thumbs over the years due to this but escaped major damage. Their keeper on this evening, did not escape ... two of his fingers were smashed and badly deranged.

Ouch. My response as the batsman who missed the ball : "I'm sorry, I can't look at that again." Lol - that wound up the opposition even more. I hope he turned out ok, he got carried off to hospital.

Me ? Yep. Hit for the second time in this game. It was another top edge going into my face but this time :
Positive - I was wearing a helmet
Negative - My technique lost out to "let's get out the way" and I turned my head away
Turning the head is actually really dangerous. The difference in impact point between that hit and Phil Hughes's hit was maybe an inch or half inch, plus a different helmet design. I think my grille had more coverage. Anyway, mine pinged off the grille on the side of the helmet.

Result - After a moment for the marbles to stop rattling and the sawdust in there to settle, I was back batting again. I was a little shaken up but kept on batting and anchored my side to what turned out to be an easy win. And then I nearly threw up in the changing room after. I did not feel at all well but was otherwise unscathed.

Third time ?

I was practicing keeping wicket in the nets, standing directly behind the stumps. A ball came in behind the batsmen, where the wicket keeper gets unsighted. The batsman got a top edge and ... I nearly end up chewing cricket ball. It bounced off my mouth and caused a cut that I should really have got stitched. It also caused minor neurological issues, in that I couldn't feel hunger.

That's weird right ? Yeah. Weird. What do I mean by that though ? There were two great examples :

Carrying on eating a massive pizza while full to bursting. I just felt a bloating in my middle from overeating, I didn't get the signal that says "not hungry any more".
Not realising I needed food until people were commenting on the noise coming from my middle. I had no idea that I was hungry.

That lasted for maybe a fortnight.

So yeah :
Nose Job - with lasting neurological effects. I'm a different person but I think I'm still ok.
Grille - an inch or so away and I may have been the unconscious one needing resuscitation.
Hunger Game - the lip healed and the hunger sense came back.

Yeah. I count myself very lucky. My memory is wonky but that's the only serious effect and that's mild compared to a stopped heart, broken or lost eyes and comas.

PS I figured out why I dodge Pretty Ladies. I suspect it's from a university incident ... I was walking through the hall of residence on my way through to see a mate. And ... a Pretty Lady (very pretty actually) comes running out of her room and ... all thought escaped my head. Yep. Even the ones which involved catching the Pretty Lady. Result - Pretty Lady runs straight into me and evening plans of having pizza with my girlfriend and generally relaxing turned into sitting in Queen Vic A&E waiting for a bad cut to heal up ... Yes, I need more practice in catching the Pretty Ladies.

Ah well.

New conclusion - Phil Williams sadly passed away as a result of his injury. Thoughts are with the family, friends and team mates.

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