1000 Words: Optimism Is Hard Work

I’m writing this as I try to dig myself out from under a severe, even frightening, upper respiratory bacterial infection. I’ve literally gone through entire boxes of Kleenex™, countless ibuprofen tabs, several blister packs of Mucinex, and a monster scrip of powerful antibiotics. I’ve drunk more hot tea than an Essex dowager.

A little kid with a hacking cough came into the Book Corner a week and half ago. I thought, “Thank goodness I’ve taken to wearing my facemask again.” Then I remembered I’d just been munching on some crackers and cheese and had neglected to re-attach said mask on both ears. Now, I’m not specifically blaming the pertussive urchin for my ordeal but, as my fever spiked on Friday and Saturday, I couldn’t shake the image of her and my fantasy of throwing her parents out of the store through the front window.

One positive aspect of the whole thing: because I spent the entirety of last Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday as well as most of Monday asleep (or, more accurately, trying to sleep through frequent fits of hacking, horking, sweating, and gasping) my left hip has given me absolutely no trouble at all through this duration. Just staying off my feet has allowed the hinge to rest a bit, and that’s all to the good. The joint in Q. is scheduled to be replaced on April 10th. I got that date back in mid-November. The surgeon explained the extreme lead time to me in doctorly, diplomatic terms. Here’s my real world language translation: there are way too many goddamned old goats like me in this town waiting to get sliced open, sawed into, metaled- and plasticked-up, and sewn back up.

See, I try to find the silver lining in every situation.

Speaking of optimism, I consider myself optimistic about humanity and the state of our species. Of course, that’s more aspirational than definitive. The internet has bared the most repulsive, terrifying sides of people than had ever been exposed by media such as newspapers, TV, radio, and the movies.

A case in point. Last night a fellow playing defensive backfield for the Buffalo Bills in an NFL game took a direct hit to the chest from an opposing player on the Cincinnati Bengals, fell to the ground, got up, looked a little wobbly, then collapsed on his back, his legs akimbo and feet splayed in the pose of somebody who was settling in for a good long sleep.

Had his teammates not noticed something was terribly wrong and summoned medical personnel for immediate help, that sleep might have become permanent. The player’s heart had stopped. CPR was performed on the field. He was defibrillated. Game announcers were speechless. Teammates and opposing players fretted and even wept. An ambulance was driven on the field and the player was hauled off to the nearest hospital where he remains in critical condition.


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The game was suspended by order of top NFL officials. This is the same league, it should be noted, that insisted on playing its regular slate of games on Sunday, November 24, 1963, a mere two days after John F. Kennedy had been gunned down in Dallas. The late president was still lying in state at the Capitol as boozy football fans watched their heroes visit mayhem on each other.

Perhaps NFL bosses are a tad more humane today than they were nearly 60 years ago. Or at least more image conscious.

A number of medical experts have opined — on said internet, of course — that the unfortunate player might have suffered something called commotio cordis. This occurs when the victim experiences a blunt blow to the chest at the exact moment his or her heart is relaxing during its normal rhythmic process. The blow can spark an electrical disturbance within the heart, causing it to stop or fibrillate. That is cardiac arrest.

The time window for the heart to be so vulnerable is said to be 40 milliseconds. That is 1/25th of a second.

One sports medicine expert explains it is something med students should usually expect only to read about and never see in real life:

The poor player’s luck could not have been worse.

A horrible, tragic story, to be sure.

Yet among the internet outpouring of concern, prayers, hopes, and wishes for his full recovery (which is iffy at this moment, considering he was not breathing for a significant stretch of time) are the knee-jerk reactions of any number of ghouls, sadists, sociopaths, borderline personality disorder-types, “he-men”, fanboys and flat-out raging assholes of this all-too-often benighted world.

Here’s a distillation of some of the YouTube and social media comments posted by people clearly unmoved by the sight of their fellow human being lying inert on a stadium floor, in a state of clinical death:

He took his chances the minute he put on the uniform

Soccer players collapse on the field all the time.

Why did they cancel the game? Another example of woke culture.

I hope everyone doesn’t puss out about this and try to ruin the sport.

People get CPR done on them all the time and they get right back to work after a few days. No big deal.

You snowflakes need to calm down.

It filled my heart with joy to see so many players praying for him. Praise the lord.

Now of course in the super-sensitive world we live in he may lose his job. Grow the fuck up.

One year into the NFL vaccine mandate and a player drops dead. Just like we expected.

He’s alive. That’s full recovery enough for me.

Police officers killed in the line of duty never get poilice departments shut down.

Give the man a banana.

Life is hard.

I must admit, I agree with the last comment. Life is indeed hard. It’s hard as hell for me to successfully keep my cool and sanity when I have to share the planet with people who think as those posters do.


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