Communion Of Dreams

How the SCA probably saved my life.
February 18, 2010, 12:56 pm
Filed under: Health, Humor, SCA, Survival

I put on a ball cap this morning, prior to heading out for my daily walk.

And my head hurt.

No, not a headache. A soft knot of pain localized right on my temple, where the cap fit just a little tightly.

* * * * * * *

I’ve mentioned the SCA here a number of times in the past. How I used to be very involved in it, how I still have a number of close friends from those days, how I learned a lot from my years of active participation.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned too much how I also blame the SCA for some of my aches and pains. But shall we say that I have been known to grumble a bit from time to time, how my days of fighting led to several joint surgeries, multiple fractures, and so forth. Oh, the SCA combat is actually quite safe, if you do it in a sane manner with decent armor. But in my younger days I didn’t always take the proper precautions, and pushed myself pretty hard to compete at the highest level – well beyond what I would consider ‘sane’ these days.

Still, those old reflexes probably saved my life.

* * * * * * *

Last October I wrote about an incident involving my stupidity and moving large chunks of wood, how it gave me a good smack upside the head and a pressure split of the scalp.

Sometimes it is only in hindsight, seen from something of a distance, that you can appreciate just what actually happened in the case of an accident. Such is the case with this incident.

It became pretty quickly clear in the weeks following that episode that I had actually suffered a concussion and likely a skull fracture. I say this because I know how bones ache when healing from a break, having broken something north of 15 of ’em over the decades. Other kinds of injuries just don’t feel the same.

Anyway, I didn’t seek treatment for it, because in spite of all the pain, there wasn’t much of an indication of anything really dangerous happening, and besides taking X-rays/cat-scans and confirming the break there wasn’t much that medical science would be able to do for me. They don’t put your head in a cast for a simple skull fracture, and I had painkillers sufficient to deal with things. Yeah, had there been some kind of bleeding inside my brain they may have done something, but I had no evidence of any such injury – I was extremely lucky.

I was *extremely* lucky.

* * * * * * *

Where the handle of the hand truck struck me on the temple was right where the cap fit a little tight. I was wearing that cap when the accident happened.

And thinking about it, and thinking about what happened and how, I now realize something that I didn’t really realize before. When, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the handle of the hand truck swinging my way, I flinched away.

A normal reflex.

Yes, but one which had been reinforced and conditioned by years – years – of SCA combat. Combat which largely consisted of people trying to hit me upside the head with stout sticks moving at high speed. Combat in which I came to be one of the best in the world for a brief period of time.

Now, I can’t prove it, and don’t care to test the hypothesis by duplicating the experiment, but I would bet that the injury I received – skull fracture, concussion – would likely have been a lot worse had I not had that honed reflex. Had I not seen the handle move, or had I moved in response just a little slower, it could well have left me with permanent brain injury or even dead. I’m not trying to be melodramatic here, just honest with myself about the close call I had.

And you know, I don’t think I’ll bitch quite so much about my aching joints from here on.

Jim Downey

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[…] what I just did. It’s my form of getting even with the damned wood that just about killed me a year ago. Took two hours to split it all, using a maul and a star wedge. That’s not quite […]

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[…] a light, fun new movie. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was at the apex of my career as a martial artist. And then The Fight started. That’s how I (and millions of others) will always think about […]

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[…] any reason to seek medical attention? Not really. I’ve broken enough bones and had enough other injuries to be able to tell when I should see a doctor or head to the ER. In fact, I’ve broken four […]

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