George Visger: How I’ve Survived So Far
I read that earlier post with the article on Fred McNeil (click HERE) and wanted to thank you and Robert once again for the great tireless job you both do on educating everyone about the real world of professional football.
We’ve discussed this in the past, and after reading more and more posts on your blog from all the players suffering with early symptoms of CTE (short term memory issues, poor judgment, anger management issues, uncontrollable emotions), I would like to reach out to all and compile a database of contacts. I know if we put our collective minds together (or whatever pieces we have that still function), we can share coping mechanisms each of us has learned to live by. I know I have my bag of tricks and would like to share them with everyone.
I hope Fred McNeil (and others) have looked into some of these fairly simple, non-medicinal rehab/recovery processes; these are a few of the things that get me through each day:
- Look into Workers Compensation. California has been allowing claims to be filed if you were injured while playing in the state, even if it’s not your team’s home state. I successfully sued the 49ers for Workers Comp and won in 1986. Since then, I even used Vocational Rehab to return to school to complete my biology degree (1986 – 1990). They will fight you tooth-and-nail over every penny but be relentless. This isn’t a handout. You paid into Workers Comp and earned every penny!
- Sleep apnea exam. Ask your wives or significant others if you show symptoms of very loud snoring and long “pauses” in breathing. Inadequate sleep and loss of oxygen when you skip breathing can cause inflammation of neurons and interfere with everyday reasoning and functioning.
- If you drink: QUIT. I discovered I was having brain seizures from alcohol several months after my third brain surgery and quit in 1982. I had been arrested 3X in the 8 prior months after my first surgery! A couple beers may seem OK, but can cause short circuits in the brain’s electrical system.
- Look into Hyperbaric Oxygen Treatment (HBOT). I have had great results with my first 80 treatments. I am beginning to suspect my latest deterioration is associated with my last Shunt malfunction a few weeks ago and will be tested for petit mal seizures. Prior to the malfunction and subsequently stopping the hyperbarics, I was doing better than I have for decades.
- Omega-3 fish oil. The brain is mainly made of EPA and DHA which makes up Omega-3 fish oils. While the jury may still out on whether the body uses these to repair damaged brain tissue, even if Omega 3’s are not necessarily used to repair neurological tissues, they’re great for reducing cholesterol. We all know what our diets were like to maintain our weights.
- Work simple memory games. Even kids’ games. It’s been proven that you can “exercise your brain” and grow new neurons into areas of the brain which are not damaged. Humans use less than 10% of their brains. Get those brain cells currently sitting on the sidelines into the game!
- Change your routines. If you always brush your teeth with your right hand, start using your left. Shake hands with the opposite hand. Changes out of the ordinary force you to concentrate on simple tasks, which in turn causes your brain to construct new neurons into areas of the brain which aren’t being used.
- Stay positive. It’s been scientifically proven that if you think you’ll get better, you’ll function better. Something good always comes out of everything and we’re being tested for a reason.
- Get mad. It’s time we quit accepting the fact we are used, discarded pieces of meat when the NFL is done with us and it’s time to kick the owners right in the teeth to get their attention. That means hitting them where it hurts – in the pocket book. And to do that, we need our stories out there to get public support. We all need to be forgiving but anger is not a bad thing if used constructively. Let’s use it to motivate ourselves to be proactive.
- Don’t be shy. Get your stories out there. In the last year or so since I discovered Dave’s Blog, I have reached out to media and sent in comments on any articles related to football injuries, traumatic brain injuries etc. every chance I get. We need to let the public know what’s going on. Without public support, we’re just a few thousand “millionaire crybabies” in the public’s eyes. Remember: It’s the public who buys the tickets, pays for cable and supports the greedy owners. What we have done up to now hasn’t worked.
- Keep plugged into Dave Pear’s Blog. Reach out to as many other discarded NFL players, college players, coaches etc. There’s strength in numbers and a wealth of information to share here. Just knowing that others are dealing with the same issues I’ve had for years has been huge for me. We were all indoctrinated into the mindset that real men/players don’t bitch about their problems. Everyone has a cross to bear. They’re much easier to carry when some of your brothers hoist up a corner.
As the NFL’s Dr. Ellenbogen put it, it’s “Time to Change The Culture of Football” before someone dies on the field. Enough high school kids have died in the last few years and we’ve all been dying young for decades.
Dave, Robert, Larry Kaminski, Brent Boyd, Burt Grossman, Bruce Jarvis, Gregg Bingham, Cody Jones, Thomas Henderson, Dan Bunz – and a host of others too many to name here – who have all contributed to this blog make one hell of a team. Let’s get it done and change this thing while we can still function.
Brain-Damaged Wildlife Biologist
San Francisco 49ers 1980 & 1981
Survivor of 9 NFL-Caused Emergency VP Shunt Brain Surgeries
Benefactor of ZERO NFL Benefits