Still, you should see the other guy
(I'm not sure it's driveable)
"It's gonna get worse," the nurse in Honesdale said after all that had happened that night, "before it gets better."
The miserable first few hours of April 27, 2006, that I remember. The few weeks before that...
The funniest part of all this was probably in training camp, or right before, maybe. I was looking back over the 2005-06 Sound Tigers stats, looking for something or other, and one name stood out.
What stood out was that I couldn't remember him. Who was he? When did he sign? Why? What'd he look like? What position did he play? What were the circumstances of those five games, 0-0-0 and minus-6?
What was his first name?
A few weeks later, I was looking back for the last time Bridgeport was shut out. It was Game 4 of the playoffs. I couldn't remember a thing about it. My game story tells me a puck went off Jeff Tambellini into the Bridgeport net for the only goal of the night. You'd think it would be memorable. No clue.
Basically, all I know about April 2006, I learned from my blog. And a lot of stuff since then wasn't sticking, either.
Look, I always knew concussions were funny animals. The brain's complicated, and we don't know what it's going to do while it's healing. But I wasn't prepared, and not just because I'd never had one (as far as I know) before. Every few weeks, I'd get a little better, and I'd think, "Whew, thank God, back to normal." And then I'd get a little better again and realize, "Jeez, no I wasn't. But whew, thank God, back to normal..."
Good gravy, eight months I wouldn't wish on anybody: It stunk. And so did I.
It slowly got better, though. Picked up on some things. The haze keeps lifting. I think I'm pretty close to normal again (though I'm reserving judgment). A turning point was mid-January, reading this column during a trip to Philly. None of it and all of it felt familiar. "There have been times I just didn't want to do it because my head just didn't feel right," said Keith Primeau. That was my year. But accepting it made it a little easier to deal with.
So why am I writing this down now? I don't know. The anniversary brings it to mind, for one thing. (Weirdly, my ear started to itch Sunday night; dry skin on the scar.) Maybe it's just that old "If I can help one person" bit. In a weird way, covering Brandon Cullen's recovery reinforced in my own mind that I wasn't nuts, that these things can happen.
Head-on-steel-on-asphalt probably guarantees that they happen. Forget about forgetting Jeff Miles: Without a seat belt, I'd be starting my second year of death. You may be a civil-liberties, stick-it-to-the-Man type who can't be told to wear a seat belt. You may be the type who worries about getting out of a car if you have to get out of your seat belt. Hey, I'm right there with you, but do me a favor: Wear it anyway, so you can still be a civil-liberties worry-wart on the off chance your car rolls over.
And God forbid that does happen, remember: Sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.