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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Concussion

Closing night of the show is always the most relaxed and, yet, the most excited.Everyone is ready to be done with the show and move back into their regular lives but, at the same time, they are in the routine of the show.
My routine was solid. I checked the house and stage areas. I checked the props. I checked to ensure my crew was there and I checked to make sure all of the stage directions were available.
Then I waited.

I had to have all of my checks done before the cast arrived and then, again, after the house opened.
Between these two points in time I had "dead air."

One particular show in January, I cannot remember the show now, I decided to use this "dead air" to get dinner from the adjacent cafe. My roommate, who was also part of the show, asked me to pick her up some food as well.

I popped over to the cafe and purchased, then ate, my dinner and picked up the food for my roommate. There was, however, a minor problem. The line of patrons who were waiting to enter the theatre was too great for me to navigate the lobby area so I had to go around.

Going around involved walking outside on the sidewalk. The slippery, icy sidewalk.
The sidewalk that many, including myself, walked every day without incident.

The very sidewalk that betrayed me this night.

I walked along the sidewalk and I felt the betrayal under my heel. Friction was failing me.
My foot glided out, moving forward of its own accord, and my center of balance compensated by moving backward.

Time slowed down.

I looked up into the huge spruce tree overhead and counted needles on various shoots off of branches. I watched the light snow start to settled through the orange glare of a mercury vapor street light.
I watched as my roommate's dinner freed itself from the bonds of the to-go cartoon and ascended into the night sky, hoping to achieve freedom from the gravity of the world.

I watched the ever so slow arc of the world as I descended; ever so slowly, onto the sidewalk.

Time, while in slow motion, became my friend.
I had an eternity to calculate the trajectory of my roommate's dinner as it aspired to achieve flight.
I had an eternity to contemplate the destruction of my skull on the pavement.

I used this eternity.

I rolled my head forward, tucking my chin to my chest as my back alighted on the pavement with a thunderous sound. The impact knocked all of the air from my lungs and I emitted a loud "oomf" as I allowed my head to roll backward, gently, to come to rest on the ground.

The dinner was on its descent and I, with the eternal slowness of the situation, moved the carton into position once, twice, three times, catching each of the mozerella sticks as they achieved perigee in their failed attempt of freedom. The marinara sauce, however, fell victim to another fate. It's trajectory differed from that of the sticks in such a way that it found ultimate refuge in my right hand which, unbeknownst to my mind, had reached out to pluck it from the air.

The dinner was saved!

I had managed to NOT smash open my head!

Taking a moment to breathe, for having the wind knocked out of oneself is ALWAYS a painful experience, I rested on the sidewalk. The falling snow had returned to normal speed and was flittering down through the darkness to lightly coat the world in a glistening and sparkling blanket. The needles of the spruce tree merged into one dark greenish-bluish-blacking mass looming above. The orange glare returned to being a beacon of civilization lighting the street as it became coated with snow.

I sat up and reclaimed my upright position.
I strode toward the theatre and presented my roommate with her dinner; still warm within the to-go container.

I perched on a chair backstage and waited for the house to open; forgetting my second check of all my duties.

By intermission my head hurt tremendously. Concentrating on my responsibilities was difficult.
By the end of the show it was impossible.
I vaguely remember assisting with strike but, also, being excused from strike to make my way home.
It was obvious to myself, and others, that my headache was of greater concern to productivity than my presence would be to helping it.

I stumbled home in the falling snow and ascended the stairway into my apartment. I passed through the kitchen and opened the ivory-colored fridge to obtain a drink.

The drink disappeared too rapidly and I retired to bed. I slept.

The next moment it was bright outside. Very bright.
Too bright.

The light set fire to my eyes and that fire burned its way into my skull.
My brain was exploding from the optic nerve outward.

I climbed out of bed and made it to the medicine cabinet where I absconded with two each of ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

They did not help alleviate the pain; they merely helped decrease the rate at which it was getting worse.

I accomplished nothing that day. I drifted in and out of consciousness in bed and on the couch.

Ultimately my roommates convinced me to hang out in the living room with them while they watched the Superbowl so that they could keep an eye on me as my headache was quite severe and my behavior was concerning to them.

I saw nothing odd, except for the severity of my headache, but they insisted.

I drifted in and out of sleep from the couch.

It was when I muttered "when did the fridge turn green?" that my roommates became thoroughly convinced that something was wrong.

Fortunately, one of them was adept at medical concerns and she suspected a concussion and, from that point forward, I was tended to properly.

The fridge eventually dropped its green cloak and returned to its proper color and the headache faded into nothing but memory.

And we all learned that it was possible to concuss oneself without actually hitting one's head for the concussion is, nearly always, a secondary impact between the brain and the skull.
The action I took to prevent a head injury is the same action that caused the concussion I received.... only an improvement on the concussion I WOULD have received if I had not tucked my head.

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