A week and day later

Wow, recovering from a big head injury is a slower process than I thought. My grandfather, Kenneth McKiniry, was the consumate athlete-coach, captain of the football, basketball and baseball teams at the University of New Hampshire, member of the first Detroit Lions pro-team, and then a multi-state championship coach at Andover, Mass.’s Punchard High School in the 50s and 60s. He had a rule of thumb when it came to pediatric medicine which came down to this: “Take the kid to the emergency room if blood comes out his ears.”

Mac’s philosophy towards injuries was very much the old “take a lap” school of dust-yourself-off and get-back-in-the-game stoic’s approach to life. This from a man who played lacrosse without a helmet. I’ve unconsciously lived my life the same way when it comes to injuries and illness, figuring at times that the best way to get rid of an incipient head cold was to climb onto the rowing machine and pull a vigorous 60 minute piece in the hope the virus would find me a most inhospitable host. Indeed, seconds after wiping out last weekend in my affair d’velo, I was standing by the roadside proclaiming it was “just a scratch” and I could make my own way home.

Fast forward six days and I was laying once again in the emergency room with numbness on my left side of my body, hooked up to an IV, and on my way to the MRI machine for 45 minutes of ear-popping, claustrophobic hell. Today, eight days after the accident, I feel sick to my stomach all the time, can’t concentrate on anything for more than a minute, and feel, in general, like crap. This is rationally the way people feel when they recover from a severe concussion, but something inside of me wants to go stack the wood, clean the garage, mulch the garden, find another bicycle, go fish for a striper, or work on any number of major work projects.

Alas, my experiment in weaning myself off my medication the past two days is now a failure, I am back on the pills, and everyone from my emergency room doc, my neurologist, my best friend the surgeon, and my wife and kids are telling me to veg out in front of the television set for weeks — not days — until my brain recovers from its bruising. This all sucks, but I am not complaining. Reading Jim Forbes on what it is like to recover from a stroke, and then I know how close I came to truly being challenged.

And all I can say is: wear a helmet.

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