Empathy, barfblog and rock and roll

I used to have Mick Taylor hair.

And then it turned grey, and went straight up, like Lyle Lovett.

I used to have a brain, but I feel it ever so slowly fading away, so I’ll get as much writing in while I’m somewhat together.

Personality, worse than ever, because I alternate between frightened, fearless and forlorn, and have no control over it.

This won’t end well.

Chapman asked me if doing all this end of life stuff like making sure my families were taken care of was a downer, and I say no, I’ve been fighting so long, it’s sort of cathartic.

My wife rolls her eyes and turns away when I tell people, I couldn’t remember my own phone number yesterday because I started taking pucks to the head in 1967.

She just thinks I’m a drunk.

Empathy may not be her strong suit.

Yet new research shows that just one concussion can mess the brain up.

I’ve had dozens, if not hundreds.

I’ve shared this with my physicians, but why not use this megaphone. When I die, someone please call this number and they’ll have a look at my brain. They’re hooked up with the CTE clinic in Boston (that’s a Sydney number, so needs a 61 first).

Research published by the American Psychological Association finds that even when feeling empathy for others isn’t financially costly or emotionally draining, people will still avoid it because they think empathy requires too much mental effort.

Amy’s had a lot to deal with and I blame her for nothing.

If I’ve learned anything on this journey, it’s the value of empathy (but like a good scientist, I want to know what works and what doesn’t, not just a bunch of catch-phrases).

I’ll stick with it as long as I can, because the reason I started the Food Safety Network in 1993 is still valid today: no parent, no individual, should say, they didn’t know the risk (followed by tragedy).

And where else would I get to play the music I love.

Freedom of the press belongs to those who own one.

Tony O in Chicago with bro Phil and CTE

Tony’s still wearing the same shitty equipment I was wearing playing pick-up in Guelph in the early 2000s.

And that mask. I try to describe what goalie masks were like when I started playing in 1967, and the best description I can come up with is, they were plastic Halloween masks; at least Tony’s had some wire on it.

He also used to cover his body in Vaseline so the pucks would hurt less.

He still holds the record for single season shutouts, set in 1970.

I have an autographed picture of Tony tucked away somewhere.

Not bad for a couple of boys from the Sault (Ste. Marie).

Tony’s taken a lot of pucks to the head; so have I.

Tony seems fine, me not so much.

Today I (almost) finalized the paperwork to donate my brain to the Sports Brain Bank in Sydney upon my death. They’re affiliated with the U.S. branch and do research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (see the movie Concussion). They’ve asked us to post a picture with our brain donor card.

Awareness of concussions and how special our brains are has come a long way since 1967, but there is still much that is unknown.

#MyLegacyPledge

Falling down

First I started falling on my hockey skates and the was the end of my 50-year hockey career.

Then I fell off my bike a couple of times and that was the end of cyclying.

Then I started falling while walking.

My wife thinks I’m a drunk, I think I’ve taken too many pucks to the head as a goaltender in ice hockey since 1967 (the last time the Leafs won the cup), 4 years as a linebacker in North American football, the car crash and everything else.

Amy took me to emergency yesterday a.m. because she’s solid like that.

Three stiches in the ear, a couple in my forehead.

Yes, it fucking hurt.

FML.

Check out my new web site,dougsdeadflowers.com.

My brain hurts: MRI edition

The first time I got an MRI was about four years ago in Tokyo after I passed out in a bowl of soup.

They didn’t find much.

Now that I randomly fall, my Australian doctor said go get a MRI.

So I just finished.

Some say it’s the booze, others say it’s CTE (chronic traumatic encephalapthy from too many pucks to the head, too many years playing linebacker where the coach said go kill the dude with the ball, the car crash, and too many falls as age advances.)

I don’t know what to expect, but remain optimistic for my partner and family.

Peace and love.

 

Still a grunt: Seahawks LB K.J. Wirght beat a nasty bout of food poisoning to lead Seattle to 21-12 win over Dallas

I hate it – and hate is a strong word – when athletes or musicians talk.

Yes, you have a voice, but can it be better than, “Uh, yeah, we gave it 110 per cent out there, just trying to win one for the team.”

In addition to all the pucks I took to the head playing goalie since 1967 (the last time the Leafs won a Cup), I played four years of linebacker, receiver and kickoff/punt returner for my high school team.

I was a grunt.

Go get ‘em, said coach, head first, with shitty helmets.

So my head’s been knocked around a lot in ways it probably wasn’t designed for.

I’m reading Ken Dryden’s book on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and will report on that later.

Still, it’s a little scary, not to know what’s going on all the time, feeling distant and distracted, and knowing there will be no diagnosis until I’m dead.

Whatevs, I got great support.

Seahawks linebacker K.J. Wright recovered from a concussion that forced him to miss last week’s game against the Rams, only to get felled by a bout of food poisoning the day before Seattle’s eventual 21-12 win over Dallas.

Wright said he ate some lasagna on the team’s Delta Airlines charter flight from Seattle to Dallas on Friday, and felt ill immediately afterward.

“I think it was the lasagna,” Wright said. “As soon as I had my last bite, about five minutes later, my stomach got tore up, and, uh, it ws all over from there. … It was coming out both ends.”

Food poising usually doesn’t happen within 5 minutes, unless it’s chemical contamination.

Microbes, even the toxin-producing ones, take a few hours.

Wright said he did not leave his hotel room on Saturday, and that the Seahawks’ doctors came in to give him IVs and some nausea medicine.

“He was in bed all day yesterday,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “Those guys played like crazy to hold (Dallas) down.”

Wright said he felt better by Sunday morning and was able to start against Dallas. He came up big for the Seahawks twice, tallying six tackles, picking off Dallas quarterback, Dak Prescott once and recovering two fumbles.

“Shout out to our doctors and trainers,” Wright said. “They’re tremendous and they took good care of me.”

(that’s the equipment I has circa 1972; the puck hurt, a lot, especially on the head)

‘Goalie/poet’ Gord Downie dies

It was Sept. 1989, when this 26-year-old first heard the opening chords of Blow at High Dough on a kitchen radio at 5 a.m. in Galt (Cambridge, Ontario), featuring the vocals of 24-year-old Gord Downie.

I was hooked.

The 1980s were a wash-out for rock-and-roll inventiveness, and when the five friends from Kingston Ontario, The Tragically Hip, splashed onto the national scene with their first full album, Up to Here, it felt like something special.

Up to Here became my running companion for the next six years.

I saw the Hip many times over the years, but the best was in a small bar in Waterloo, Ontario, about April 1990, with my ex who was about 7 months pregnant with Canadian daughter 2-of-4.

I remember every moment of that concert.

Gord died yesterday of complications from glioblastoma, a terminal brain cancer.

We humans know so little about the brain.

PTSD, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), cancer, addiction, bad wiring, and yet we continue to bash our heads around, in sports as little kids, in cycling and falls around home construction sites. The three concussions I’ve had in the past three months, along with a lifetime of pucks to the head, have made me slow down, be more careful, and try to take care of my brain a bit better.

The best we can do, as Gord said, is try to lift up those around us.

Two of my favorite videos are below.

The first is from a song about North America, although the video was shot near Melbourne in Australia while the band was on tour.

May Ry Cooder sing your eulogy.

A gift from down under.

The second, here’s hoping for peace on Fiddler’s Green.