Some days you can do it and some days you can’t. Today, I couldn’t. I was in pain when I woke up and my arm was burning. It was a hot, still Sunday morning. The ocean had a glassy sheen. Shimmering like syrup. Perfect. I had fully intended to get up and swim at Manly but my resolve weakened and I just couldn’t do it. I have overdone it since I had the spinal block and probably should have had a couple of weeks off swimming. Spent most of the day reading a fantastic book that I first read 20 years ago. Called Literary Las Vegas, it’s a selection of excerpts from some of the best writing about America’s most infamous city. Some of the greats are featured here – Tom Wolfe, Michael Herr and the incomparable Hunter S Thompson. These were peerless authors who obviously found Las Vegas important enough to write about. No doubt about it, LV is the best and worst of America. I’ve been there twice already and am really looking forward to revisiting it next year
While reading the Sydney Morning Herald, I came across a story about St George rugby league player Josh Dugan. A sublimely talented athlete, he will sometimes be remembered more for bad behaviour and lots of tatts than his skills. But this caught my eye:
“By then Dugan hopes to be back in full contact training after recovering from a neck operation in which surgeons shaved two of his vertebrae to relieve a nerve problem that was causing numbness in his fingers.
Dugan first began feeling pain in his neck and shoulders last year but the injury intensified after this season’s opening game and he often struggled to finish games or train with the team between matches. `Three of my vertebrae were pushing on each other and they were pushing on my disc, which was then pushing on the nerve,’ he said.
`I would get constant aching in my shoulder and in my neck, and there were times I would get tingling down my arm and numbness in my fingers. It started last year, there were times I would get burners in my shoulders and that sort of thing but pretty much since round one it has just been gradually getting worse and worse. I didn’t want to go through that again next year so I wanted to get on top of it and I can already feel the difference.’ “
Sydney Morning Herald November 21 – 22, 2015 Pages 56 – 57
Lucky you. I wonder who his surgeon was? I think I’ll write to him and ask. Poor old Josh has got a C6 C7 nerve root problem. He has a cervical radiculopathy resulting from neck arthritis or degenerative disc disease, which forms bone spurs and decreases disc height. This reduces the opening through which a nerve travels and pinches the nerve. Problems with a herniated disc can place pressure on the nerve along with inflammation which can irritate the nerve. Neck injury is another cause of a pinched nerve. It’s quite a shock to see someone so high profile and obviously so tough, who has exactly the same complaint as me. He is also about 30 years younger than I am. I can only presume that his injury is a result of football trauma rather than advancing years. However, I had my first episode of neck spasm at the age of 22 in exactly the same place I have it now. It certainly doesn’t seem to be a respecter of persons
So me and Josh Dugan. I can’t play footy like him and I don’t have as many tatts, but Josh, I feel your pain. Believe me, I feel your pain. How you ever got through a rugby league season with this ailment is beyond me. You seem more human to me now not just a distant footballer. You have the same ailments that all us punters in the cheap seats have to endure. It makes us feel better. I wish you a speedy recovery and hope it doesn’t effect your side-step. Also stay off the beers – they don’t help rehabilitation (or anything else for that matter, especially your reputation.)
Hey, I just had a thought. Maybe Josh Dugan is the Hunter S Thompson of rugby league. Both were supremely talented, both cannoned around crashing into things. Both got arrested (a lot!) and both had periods of life, under the influence of mind altering substances, which will forever remain a black hole in their memories. “Now what did I do last night?” I wonder if Thompson had tatts? He probably didn’t play Rugby League for St George.