Saturday, October 10, 2015

The Biggest Scare I Ever Experienced

I'm reposting an answer I wrote in reply to the following question posted on Reddit: "What's the biggest scare you've ever gotten?"

I was surprised by how proud I was of my response, so I decided to share it here.

Broomball.
Broomball is a made up alternative to hockey where you replace the puck with a ball, the sticks with brooms, and the skates with shoes. I have no idea who came up with this, but I was invited as part of a youth group event in high school. It was actually an inter-youth-group event: my BBYO chapter was invited to play against our local USY chapter.
Of course it was their idea. We tended to think of ourselves as a lot cooler than the USY kids (which is funny if you have any idea what these acronyms stand for). We would've suggested paintball or something. Mind you, I sucked at paintball and I certainly had no idea how to play hockey, but the idea of broomball seemed literally insane. Disregarding that pee-wee bastardizations of real sports seem embarrassingly infantile to me both then and now, it made no sense that the kiddy version of hockey would place players at the major disadvantage of running around on ice WITHOUT SKATES. I certainly wasn't going to chicken out on a challenge from the USYers, though.
Well, my twin brother and I walk out on the rink wearing tennis shoes and I'm still wondering how this makes any sense. Before the game starts, we're all figuring out how to move and passing the ball back and forth, and it passes by my brother. He sticks out his broom to try to catch it. This is the first movement he's made since walking out. He reaches and immediately his feet come out from under him and his head comes down on the ice hard.
We're not wearing helmets or pads, by the way. That's for hockey. Since broomball is supposed to be the bumper bowling of hockey, we're obviously not wearing any safety gear.
I rush over to pick him up along with a few other people nearby and that was the scariest moment of my life. His eyes seem to be looking off if different directions. They certainly aren't focusing on anything at all in this reality. His slack jaw is literally drooling. I'm holding him up with some help and he doesn't seem to be instructing his body to assist me. I'm asking him if he's okay and the only response I'm getting is the creepy unguided tilting of his head. A little this way and then a little that way. He seems like a baby. He isn't talking or standing, he just seems to be exploring what different levers in his motor cortex do like it's his first time at the wheel.
We get him off the ice and call 911 and I'm considering that this is the moment when I lose my best friend and gain a lifelong reminder of him in the form of a severely mentally handicapped brother.
Fortunately, that isn't how concussions work. It was rated as moderate/severe. Within 10 minutes he was a toddler, then a really dumb, confused teenager. By the time he got to the hospital it was clear he would be fine, provided he didn't do it again in the next six weeks. Frankly, as an adult it doesn't seem that alarming now that I know that this kind of thing happens to football players all the time. Still. Looking into my twin brother's eyes and seeing a voided mind remains the scariest single moment I ever experienced.

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