You don’t wake up knowing you’re about to embark on a day that will change everything. It’s strange really. Your coffee doesn’t smell different, traffic doesn’t seem to move any faster. Everything feels just as routine as the day before. But the day before wasn’t anything at all like this day. No, this day, you will never forget.
My mom, youngest brother, and myself were going to a movie when my oldest brother called my mom to tell her he was at the hospital for a concussion he’d sustained while making a tackle during the football scrimmage earlier that day. We actually debated for a moment about whether or not we should just go to the movies. I mean, it was just a concussion. We’ve all had them at some point. It’s a pretty standard injury. But for some reason, we all just felt like we needed to be there. It’s surreal now to think that there was ever any doubt in our minds that this was an emergency situation.
I don’t even remember what movie it was we were going to see.
We walked into the emergency room waiting area and he still hadn’t been taken back; which made no sense to me because he looked terrible. His shoulders weren’t even. His face was more pale than I’d ever seen before, and he was covered in sweat. Concussion my ass.
Finally, his name was called. My other brother and I were stuck waiting out in the lobby. We waited and worried. My injured brother, Shane, was getting a MRI examination. During the scan the technicians wasted no time alerting the nearest hospital with a surgeon on duty. They knew what we were dealing with, and tried their best to explain it to us gently. The rest of the night flew by in a blur. Shane was taken by ambulance to the hospital. They told him his C6 and C7 were shattered. They had to go in, remove the remaining bone and replace it with a metal cage. They told him it would be months of physical therapy. They told him it would be one hell of a surgery and long recovery time. They told him he would never play another football game. Before they took him back into the OR I got to talk with him. I kissed his sweaty forehead and let him cry to me about losing his greatest love, football, and how scared he was about surgery. And more so, how scared he was of the real possibility of waking up paralyzed.
Moments later they wheeled him back, and we all waited and cried and talked about what this meant for him, what it would mean for Shane’s future.
After a 7 hour long surgery Shane began to slowly wake up. He was confused, unsure, and had to have the entire story repeated to him while we all watched him relive it. We all gathered around as the doctor asked him to wiggle his toes and we stared at his feet in anticipation as we watched each big toe make a slight, but significant move. I have few memories of moments afterwards. Some extremely difficult, but I believe them too personal to share, as those moments of mourning belong to my brother.
My parents took turns staying at the hospital with him. I stayed every night and every night brought a new development. 5 days later he stood up. And then slowly, he started walking with assistance. I couldn’t be happier to report that now my brother can walk, and run and live a perfectly normal life.
The strength Shane exhibited this past year is the strength I remember through every stress, every hardship. It’s the strength that got me through my breakup, that helped me survive New York City, that gave me the strength to get a full time job and finally get my own place. It’s the strength that builds me everyday. He will never know how much of an impact he’s made on everyone who knows him, and he’ll never know the extent of my admiration for him.
Love you bub