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Probably not a good sign


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Lyttleton harbour. Photograph by John Gillespie.I got hit in the head the other day. Never having been concussed before, it’s hard to say whether I was, or in fact still am, but having headaches two days later probably isn’t a good sign.

Boys will be boys as they say—grown men as well. On holiday and playing a game of frisbee, a casual sport some friends are rather partial to, innocent fun soon degenerated into competition and intense struggle—a loser takes a dip in the ocean game of“Donkey.” For those not familiar, the object in Donkey is to make it as hard as possible for your opponents to catch the disc—whether by throwing it with force sufficient to break bones (normally noses in fact), or far enough away to struggle for a clean catch. Drops and poor throws earn a letter of the titular word, the first to spell the animal surely being one. Why a donkey? Said animal is hardly renowned for it’s intelligence or speed…

By the end of the game, played on a precipice with spectacular views of Christchurch’s Lyttleton Harbour, all of the players tied, or close enough because score keeping was taken less than seriously, it came to a single, final throw for redemption, hopefully dry clothes as well. A ‘Hail Mary’ thrown high into the air above, all five of us scrambling to be the catcher.

It looked good for me for a while, with extra incentive as a non-swimmer since ear trouble in childhood. Leaping up to catch the frisbee, admittedly not as high as I might imagine since in stature I am lacking, I came within an inch of clasping the disc, victory as well, glory thwarted only by a mid-air collision of spectacular proportions. Hit from behind, more blind-sided really, I was thrown empty handed to the ground then side-swiped, a brain-shaking, dazing blow to the side of my head by another player as I fell.

Lyttleton harbour again. Photograph by John Gillespie.Like I said already, I can’t be sure if what followed was concussion, but the fact that my head hurt in two places—where collided with and where brain hit skull—is probably a certain sign. There was little time to ponder the finer points of a sore head however as I headed towards the water…

Which got me thinking. A sportsman since the time I could hold a bat in my hand, I have twisted, strained, pulled and bruised just about every single part of me possible to injure, yet touch wood of changing room wall have yet to break a single bone or get knocked out. Sitting here nursing a residual headache, and substantially warmer than when in the water, I am reminded that lack of injuries are truly a blessing, and physical pain, while heroic in the enduring, is not lightly to be invited.

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By Jaitra

Jaitra is a New York based designer with a love of writing and a practise of meditation. A member of the Sri Chinmoy Meditation Centre, he attempted poetry once and keeps on practicing writing.

4 replies on “Probably not a good sign”

Dear John, if pain persists please see your doctor. (This situation does of course explain our banter on your last post.) I must say that you kiwis are rough, if Dinesha was there, I imagine that broken bones may well have ensued.

Ah, angry man and his angry red van—a comment which will mean nothing at all to other readers but is a great in-joke none the less. Funnily enough it wouldn’t be the first time such has occurred in that company.

Even funnier is for you rough and course Australians to call us soft and sweet Kiwis rough—but then it is no accident that despite much reason to the contrary we excel at that most violent of sports—rugby; a part of the national character come dark underbelly that was most of the inspiration for James K. Baxter’s Pig Island Letters—scathing, cutting insights with no punches pulled about our two-island land by it’s greatest poet.

The closest New Zealand has ever come to a civil war was due to rugby…

Oh dear! Are you icing it? do you have a goose egg bump? If you have health insurance for it, you might even do well to get an MRI. I never had the slightest inkling of the seriousness of head injuries until having one of my very own last fall. It took a good 4 months for the bruised tissue to reabsorb and a good 2 months before I didn’t feel affected in my mental reasoning. And they didn’t even think I had concussion. According to the medical experts, the most critical thing is to not hit the head again for at least 6 months. I had to swear off all strenuous activity for that amount of time. And as someone said to me recently, look at Mohammad Ali. His current illness today is the direct result of one too many blows to the head. It’s no joking manner. The brain is a very delicate and mysterious thing. It really makes one stop and contemplate the complex and delicate workings of the human body which God so fantastically created.

I’m sorry to hear about your injury Sharani—that sounds like something of a nightmare to have been through. I think, although perhaps my reasoning is not to be trusted here, that my own knock is not quite so serious, and it is worth mentioning that I have been known to at times exaggerate things in the purpose of telling a good story, but still I will keep an eye on things if matters don’t improve.


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