Black eye

Last night during soccer training, one of our practice drills was to be divided into two teams as we sprinted against the other to reach a marker first. The first try went well; our group was winning. Then the other group discovered our sprint lengths were slightly shorter, cried foul and adjusted our circuit. Then it was our second try. Clearly, a win was no longer within our reach. My teammate from the other group was on par with me as we raced to the cone. We were really that close, and i did a slide to the cone; and she did something (i don’t know what), and we collided. I felt a massive impact on my head, and was thrown backwards. I saw my teammate flying across me, grasping her knee in pain. I hit the ground and i could not move. I could only grabbed my head.

The pain was astounding. It reverberated through my head – a pain i never felt before, never in martial arts training. My first thought was i just sustained a serious concussion. My next thought was i am going to need a CT scan. And then i got quite scared when i thought about my impending exam tomorrow. My last thought was recalling patients i had seen over the years, who had sustained traumatic brain injuries and who had residual impairment in their memories and intellectual functioning. Then i heard my coach.

“Spud, Spud, are you ok?”

I would have normally responded, but i couldn’t this time. I could not open my eyes, and i was trying to deal with the pain and the shock. I think the coach got a bit afraid that something bad really happened because i don’t normally stay on the ground for this long. I usually get up, suck it up, and move along.

“Spud, get up, get up now,” he ordered, almost pleading.

Finally i got my voice back. “Yeah i will, give me two seconds.”

And then i got up, still clutching the left side of my face. The rest of my team had been stunned into silence. One of my teammates came up to me, “Are you all right?”

I removed my hand from my face, and felt a fat drop on my hand.

“Shit, am i bleeding?” i said.

My teammate looked at my face and gasped. I saw the horrified expression on her face, and promptly replaced my hand over my left eye where the throbbing pain was. It was more to protect her from the apparently grotesque sight, than for me. I checked my hands. Nope, no blood, just tears. That’s good; the protective mechanism of my eye is still in order. I know, crazy thoughts right? I do that all the time, thinking detached irrelevant thoughts to protect myself from whatever shock i am in.

We hurried to the change rooms. The parents of one of the soccer players saw my face and i saw the identical shocked expressions mirror on their faces. You know, i have not as yet, seen the damage on my face, but these people are starting to scare me. I wondered how i was going to take my exams, maybe with a huge bandage?

I grabbed hold of the ice, could not find a cloth to wrap it in and did not care anymore. I placed the ice directly on the throbbing part of my face.

“No, no!” the mother of one of my teammates shrieked.I was almost amused by her reaction. I wondered if she knew i was a medical student.

I used my bandanna instead. Then my teammate dragged me to the bathroom and i saw my face in the mirror. I just got myself a damn black eye. I looked like i had been socked in the socket. I spent three seconds at the mirror before i turned away and looked around. Visual acuity still intact. Fine.

And we strode back to the field, and i resumed training to a few protests. I did not lose consciousness, so i figured i am fine. Also i did not feel nausea and i remembered every damn second of the incident, including my teammate hurtling across me when we collided. But i was a bit worried about the mechanism of my injury. It certainly looked like i got away with it, but i was concerned because my teammate injured her knee to the extent she could not sprint. I thought in a collision between the side of an orbit and a knee, the winner would be a no-brainer. During the rest of the training, i did avoid any further headers and tackles, although i did hear a teammate yelling at me to be careful when i got too close to someone’s arm or something. I think one reason why i insisted on playing on was because i needed to prove to myself that i was all right.

I did not want to go to the emergency department because i felt fine and i did not think they could help me anyway aside from giving me painkillers, which i will refuse, because i was not in great pain (in fact, there was no pain aside from the mutterings of a slight frontal headache, and the stirrings of aching muscles at the back of my neck) and i do not like taking medications. I ran through the NEXUS criteria in my own head, ran it past my housemate (also a final year medical student and currently on her Emergency Medicine rotation) and we thought there’s no harm just waiting this out. Plus it was late; i was exhausted and stressed for my exams, and my housemate had an exam this afternoon. I called a couple of other close friends just to let them know what was happening (and got bombarded with the same exact medical questions that i have been asking myself) and then a friend’s partner who is an Intern told me to get my arse to the Emergency. Any injury that involves the orbit should not be taken lightly. To be honest, i did worry about the risk of getting periorbital cellulitis or orbital cellulitis because they are medical emergencies and i could lose my sight. But i thought i was over-reacting.

Anyway, my housemate and i did trudge up to the emergency. We walked out after four hours. It is a long story and i have no time to blog about it now, but the nurses or nurse practitioners were incredibly rude and really incompetent. We were just appalled this could happen in a major hospital. They did not realize we were medical students, and we did not inform them either. The two patients before us had also walked out without getting treatment. And folks, the emergency department was quiet. There were three patients? For fuck sake. I was very appalled by these nurses. Anyhow, that will be another entry. So that’s that.

I did not get an extradural haematoma (i was wondering if i will wake up from my sleep) and certainly (touch wood!) not a subdural haemorrhage. Got to get back to studying now. More tomorrow perhaps.

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