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I expected an ordinary Thursday afternoon to ensue as I headed to soccer practice. I walked past the locker rooms and onto the soggy field, and I could see all my teammates already heatedly involved in a scrimmage. Eager to join and start practice, I began to sprint...faster, faster, and faster.
As I continued to accelerate, one of my teammates conveniently kicked the ball into the penalty area for someone to score. The ball elevated, and out of instinct I jumped, hoping to get my head on the ball and score. My feet left the ground, and my airborne body was suspended for couple, glorious seconds until I gradually plunged down onto the wet turf. I completely missed the ball, but what I did succeed was smash into a teammate who also couldn’t control his own speed. The first collision transferred to the second impact on the ground, and the back of my head struck onto the turf so hard that all the players present heard the impact. I did not score--that was the last thing I remembered. After that, my eyes began to roll back, my visions began to fade, and I blacked out.
What was supposed to be an enjoyable soccer practice quickly turned into a horrific scene. I was unconscious for about half of a minute, and then my body gave ways to movements unbeknownst to me. I could not have predicted what happened next. All of the sensations I experienced from that point on was in slow motion and in a blurry haze. I started out by looking up into the blank, open sky, with my eyes totally disoriented, struggling to conceptualize the current circumstance. I had completely lost control over my brain and muscles. My mouth was wide open and thick saliva began to dribble down the side of my cheek like a river going downstream. As I tried to come to my senses, I began to twitch; the spurts of spasms turned into incessant flailing, and I was unstoppable, almost like a possessed being. I twitched as if I was a dead ant being poked with a sharp, burning hot stick. The untamable muscles in my arms began to flail and kick in all sorts of directions, as did my legs. I tried to stop myself, but the demon inside of me kept me going. I went on, twitching, for about a solid minute as my teammates bewilderedly continued to stare at me. Dumbfounded about what was unfolding before them, they stood paralyzed and petrified. I wanted to yell, “Call 911!” but I couldn’t even muster a whimper. I heard one of my teammates scream “Coach!”, but after that, I blacked out, again.
As I gradually woke up, I instantly felt a massive throbbing in my head and I instantly began to taste blood in the back of my throat. It felt like someone was trying to bash my brains in with a jackhammer. I attempted to recall what had just happened, but my mind just replied with another massive blow to the back of my head and I was left with blank thoughts. I couldn’t remember anything. I had a lot of questions: What day is it? What am I doing here? Where am I? I tried to express my pain and confusion, but all I let out was a slight moan. In the faint distance, I heard someone cry out “He’s getting Jayme!” Jayme was our athletic nurse.
I wanted to get up, but the aching muscles lie still in rebellion, pretending not to hear my brain commanding them to move. The legions of voices in my head were shouting their unanimous permission for me to stay still and go back to dreamland. In my conscience, ten thousand screams fanned out like a river delta before me, each one promising me resistance from my movement. I began to look towards my feet; they were completely still. The shrieking tensions that built up in my head ordered them to move, but they still did not respond. In fact, I couldn’t even feel my feet, or even my legs for that matter. From the waist down, I was numb and my legs were deadweight. This was a battle royale between myself, my mind, my body, and my stinging muscles.
I looked in front of me, but I was too discombobulated for even the slightest of movements. It seemed like an eternity until my eyes adjusted to the lights and sounds of reality. Then slowly, one of my soccer teammates, Sam, came into view, and I realized that he had been propping my head up, consoling me until Jayme got here. Focusing on the look in Sam’s eyes and the expression in his face, the gravity of my accident yet the sureness in my safety both clearly became actualized. For the first time, the rush of overwhelming pain and confusion simmered down.
I began to whisper, “What-What surface am I on?”
“You’re on turf. Turf,” he replied shakily, a bit surprised that I had spoken, but trying his best to keep his composure and calm.
Finally, Jayme arrived, assessed the situation, and tried to get me to stand up; but again, my brain resisted and my legs were pulled down by a tremendous weight as if I was being smashed by a hammer. She lay me down, and let me breathe for a couple seconds until Sam and Jayme carried me into the golf cart. I breathed and with every inhale and exhale, my head began to contract with even more pain.
When I got into Jayme’s office, I was lied down on a bench with Sam beside me. She began to ask me simple, easy questions.
“What school do you go to?”
“Who’s the president of the United States?”
After a series of these questions, she finally asked me, “Do you know what happened?”
“I don’t know,” I replied. “I don’t remember.”
Sam who had been quietly listening and observing the interaction finally spoke up. “I remember. I’ll remember.”