37. sidelined.

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I drummed my fingers along the hospital bedrail impatiently as I watched the rain splatter against the window

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I drummed my fingers along the hospital bedrail impatiently as I watched the rain splatter against the window. The morning sky was dreary and blanketed with dark grey clouds, which suited my mood perfectly.

I had been sidelined indefinitely-- during the playoffs. The playoffs that I had killed myself all year to make in the first place.

And instead, I'd been stuck in here. Slowly losing my mind. It was frustrating beyond belief.

"How are you feeling this morning?" The neurologist, Dr. Wilson, asked me as she walked into my room.

"About as good as can be expected, I guess," I said with a shrug. "Anxious to go home."

Understatement of the century. I hated hospitals. The antiseptic smell, the fluorescent lighting, the scratchy hospital sheets.

I didn't know how Ryan did it, day in and day out. Hospitals made my skin crawl. I wanted to get the hell out of here.

"Well, we'll see about that. A few more tests and exams before we can decide. What's your full name? Can you tell me the date?"

I nodded. "Ethan Conrad Russell. May 17th, 2017. It's Monday."

She started to examine my eyes. "Where are you right now?"

"The hospital. Eastrock Hospital."

Instead of home in my bed with Ryan. Like I should be.

"And why are you here?"

"I had was injured playing hockey. Someone tripped me and I slid into the boards. Knocked me clean out. And here we are."

Whatever came of that, anyway? I'd forgotten to ask the guys. I wonder if the other player had been disciplined. I hope so. Cheap fucker.

She showed me 3 black-and-white photos. "What are these?"

"Keys. A fork. A clock."

"Good. Hop off the bed and walk around for me, just to the door and back."

Strangely nervous, I obeyed as she watched me. It felt like a sobriety test.

"How's the pain today? Any dizziness? How's your cognitive functioning?" she asked, continuing with her physical exam.

"Some pain. It's like a dull headache right now. No dizziness. My thinking seems fine. I mean, I'm not confused or anything."

"What were the pictures I just showed you?"

"Keys, a fork, and a clock."

"I need to discuss a few things with the rest of your medical team and then we can make a decision. Do you have someone who can drive you home and who can help monitor you for the next couple of days?"

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