I recently read an article about a former USC defensive back. It wasn’t about his charity work. It wasn’t about him pursuing political office. It was about him wandering into traffic and getting hit by a Chevy Astrovan. He was 31 years old.
Like many football players, he was diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE. It’s a progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated head injuries. Symptoms include behavioral problems, trouble thinking, and mood problems. It often becomes worse over time.
After 20 years of contact sports, I am intuitively inclined to think that I have and am developing the very same disease. Reading the article was like reading my own biography. We shared the same issues, same mood and behavioral problems, and “a headache that never seemed to go away.” We have both self-medicated to no avail.
CTE is often misdiagnosed as bipolar of schizophrenia. They share similar characteristics, especially as the disease becomes more injurious to the mind. I have trouble staying awake, I have focus issues, and chronic depression. I’ve had too many concussions to count, and I feel like the effects are finally catching up with me.
I find myself in a time warp of sorts- days, weeks, and months are gone in a flash. I have memory problems which only seem to get worse. My sense of smell is almost non-existent (an early indicator of CTE). And instinctively, I know that something is wrong between my ears. I know that I’ve done severe damage to myself, but I’m unsure of the extent. I’m hoping a new test and treatment options are made available soon. As of now, there is no conclusive test until death, and there are no treatments available. Keeping my fingers crossed.