B spent much of his childhood, teenage years, and collegiate life as a diver - springboard and platform, not SCUBA. He dove for the University of Texas and was on some US National teams. I met him toward the end of his diving career and had no idea of how good he was until the time the UT coach handed me a bunch of awards that belonged to B that had been lying around the coach's office. When I asked the coach if B was any good, he looked at me in disbelief and said, "Um, yeah. He was really good." I wish I had known him at the peak of his career. I love watching him dive, even now that he's older and not in shape for it. He installed a one-meter board up at our lake place so that he can dive when we're up there.
But all of his messing around on the board for fun may have come to an end. For the past couple of months B has been complaining about pain in his neck. He's been going to the chiropractor, which I disagree with, and getting regular massages, which I'm jealous of. The pain, however, kept getting worse. He's now wearing a neck brace. Last week B went for an MRI and a CT scan, which showed damage between his C2 and C3 vertebrae. The MRI seemed to show fractures in his vertebrae, but the CT scan, which is better for looking at bones, didn't show any fractures. Phew.
This morning we went to see an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in necks and spines. The diagnosis - arthritis in his neck. The doctor's immediate recommendation is an injection of anesthesia and steroids into B's neck. That should relieve the pain and get B to the point where he can do rehab, which would otherwise be incredibly painful for him right now. B has an appointment tomorrow with an anesthesiologist to talk about the procedure. The next step would be a procedure to cauterize some of the nerves in his neck. After that, the last step would be to fuse his two vertebrae together, which would eliminate a lot of the range of motion in his neck. This is not an appealing option, especially not at his young age.
The doctor this morning wasn't particularly helpful. He basically said, "You've got arthritis; you're screwed. Here are some pain pills."
The other night B ran through a list of his diving friends who have back and/or neck problems, and it was a frighteningly long list. He's also been doing research, and there aren't many studies on platform divers and the effect the sport has on their bodies. There's just not a huge population of people to study.
I'm just relieved that B has chosen to take action on this. He has the tendency to just ignore things in the hopes that they will go away. Let's hope that the injection and rehab will make a difference for the better.