And this year we have the added hysteria of the H1N1 virus. Few of the college swimmers have been able to get vaccinations for it yet. One girl on the team was smart enough to catch it during the summer so that’s at least one athlete we can count on for conference. Another girl was diagnosed with H1N1 just the other week and then, after that, she developed a sinus infection, strep throat and an ear infection – in both ears. After the last diagnosis, while she was still leaking from every cranial orifice, she asked Mr. Coach if she could get back in the water. Once the penicillin kicks in, we’ll know if her brain got infected, too, or if it’s always been that way.
But it isn’t just illness. It’s the dumb accidents that are on the upswing again. The other night, I was driving with Mr. Coach and he gets this phone call. Here -- and I am not making ANY of this up -- is his side of the conversation:
“So is it broken?...No, if the kidney was sliced, she would have seen blood when she peed…Well then the kidney’s fine…Oh, they recognized you from this summer?...Were they still mad?”
One of Mr. Coach’s athletes had tumbled off the wide, concrete natatorium stands when she was doing some kind of dryland exercise. One of the seniors had taken her to the emergency room and was calling Mr. Coach from there. As it turned out, the tumble-down athlete had a bruised rib and the senior chauffeur got to re-meet the E.R. staff. The last time he met them – which they remembered quite vividly – was after a cycling accident he had and he was not a “good” patient.
As for the tumble-down athlete, Mr. Coach told me, “She’s not exactly a land animal.”
“Are any of them?” I felt compelled to ask.
But, to end on a happy note, the tumble-down athlete still competed in their meet that weekend, bruised rib notwithstanding, and she swam close to a P.R. in her best event. Before conference championships, we’re going to drop her off a cell-phone tower and hope for a world record.