The first extract from Nottingham Rugby full-back Dave Jackson's new ebook "Head in the Clouds" tells of the moment he was told by a neurosurgeon that he would have to immediately retire from the game...
The scan results showed a scar on the brain. I could see it for myself. It looked like a perfect black circle and they explained to me that it came from a small bleed that had not showed up on the original CT scan.
It was a huge shock to see it for myself. I didn’t really know what to say. I stood there staring at it. This was me I was looking at. My head.
When it came to the nitty gritty, the discussion about my future as a rugby player didn’t last long.
In fact, it wasn’t a discussion at all. The neurosurgeon advised me that I should stop playing the game with immediate effect.
“….with immediate effect.”
“…with immediate effect.”
As hard as that was to hear, part of me had expected something like that.
I knew in the weeks leading up to the scan that things weren’t right by a long way. But the magnitude of what this stranger was saying to me just didn’t sink in for a while.
Looking back, I was also grateful that they took any decision about my future away from me.
There would also always be the temptation to continue “playing for a while and ‘see how it goes’. The hardest decision to make would be to admit my situation and just pack it in.
I didn’t expect it to be so clear cut though and I didn’t expect my career to come to an end in such a way. I played my first game for Nottingham when I was six years old and that was 25 years ago. This was my club. I wanted to go out on my own terms and I don’t mind admitting that I wanted to go out in a blaze of glory too.
It was a very sad process telling people at the club and loved ones that I wouldn’t be coming back. That was it. Game over.
It felt weird in the aftermath. When I should have been training, I was at home. When I should have been in the gym, I was at home. Even worse, when I should have been playing, I was at home too.
Inevitably, thoughts immediately turned to the obvious question: What the hell was I going to do now?