I was playing a match for my high-school team where I was forced to make a goal line stand as a ball carrier came hard at me off of a ruck. The runner got lower than me and hammered me in the chest (shortly before he scored the try).
Soon after that hit, I noticed my voice was messed up and I now sounded like Louis Armstrong. Think half human – half frog. Despite that, I was only a bit sore and finished the last 20 minutes of the game. Then my mother found out I couldn’t talk normally and forced me to go to the emergency room.
Club: Lethbridge Collegiate Institute
Injury: Punctured Lung
I sat in their waiting room for 2 hours twiddling my thumbs until all of a sudden everyone freaked out and I found myself hooked up to a dozen machines in the ICU within minute. The doctors explained to me when you know you’re about to be impacted by something, your epiglottis closes to to protect your lungs – effectively making your chest a big air balloon. Put that balloon under too much pressure, and it pops.
I still remember seeing my heart monitor go through the roof as they told me I had punctured my lung – I could already see them plunging a syringe into my chest to re-inflate the lung. As it turned out, however, my only treatment was to be placed on pure oxygen until the lung healed. During the following two days, my lung continued to leak air into my chest, which literally produced small bubbles under my skin. You could actually pop them like bubble wrap by pressing down on them too. It made a bit of a crunching noise each time you did it.
I think every medical intern within 100 miles dropped by to see me and pop a few of my bubbles. It really started to annoy me as I didn’t have an endless supply of bubbles – and popping them was one of my only sources of entertainment as I laid there in the ICU
After a couple of days of observation, popping bubbles, and getting high off of pure oxygen, I was discharged from the hospital and was asked to see an ear/nose/throat specialist on my way home. That specialist told me the doctors in the ER though I might have had a broken trachea and that’s why they freaked out.
He also told me that the reason he never came to see me in the hospital was because if I had had a broken trachea, I’d be dead – so he assumed I didn’t have that. He then told me not to go skydiving or scuba diving for the rest of my life, and kicked me out.
I’m now 34 and still playing rugby, and I have my deep dive certification. In the end it was a pretty painless injury, but served as a good reminder as to why we get lower than the ball-carrier when we tackle.
By Scott Greer
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