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Chasing The Dream

Written by Jin'ichiro Shibahara

2008 season

Apr 13, 2008 - Oakdale, CA: Turn Out

The day of the show, I was in Utah.  Not only had I not gone to the rodeo, I hadn’t even gone to California.

Amongst the frustration of having to “stay still and rest” I put fingertips to keyboard and wrote up this report.

For two days after getting back from Cave Creek, I did absolutely nothing and tried to rest, but I was still feeling some pain from having landed on my neck, so on Tuesday I decided to go see my physical therapist.  After telling him I had gotten a concussion and had been knocked out, his response was a surprised, “Again?!”  “Jean,” he said, “this time you had better take it a bit more seriously.”

Not surprising advice considering that on the 24th of March I was slammed down on the ground by the last bull I rode this winter, knocked out and lost about four or five hours worth of memory.  I don’t even remember how I got to the arena, let alone which bull I got on.  Of course, I went with Louie and his family, so I have an idea how I got there…  What was really surprising is that I had packed all my gear my self, went home, changed cloths and was lying in my bed when I came to.

Two days after the first crash I was in this guys office, talking about a concussion and pain in my neck, and here I was again talking to him about the exact same thing – hence his surprised response of “Again?!”

When I told him I had a rodeo on the 13th in California, what I got was a doubtful, “You’re not going to ride are you?”  At that point I was intent on at least going to Oakdale.  After treating my neck and the surrounding area, he saw me out with a warning: “I wouldn’t advise it.  If you do go, be VERY careful.”

That night we went to watch a softball game my host’s granddaughter was playing in.  We were all sitting on the top rung of some steel bleachers and I didn’t feel very balanced.  Every time people below us would stand up, the bleachers would shake up and down, and though they were only moving about one or two inches, my head would rock too, and I would feel faint.  It didn’t take much for me to realize, “This ain’t good.”

Wednesday – I went out for a light jog but not half way through I began feeling a strange sensation.  After getting back to the house, I sat down and Googled “concussion” to see what I could find.  I read through a few pages, but none of it was good.  I didn’t have any of the dizziness or nausea associated with concussions, but I kept running across the term “second impact syndrome” and decided it was worth being concerned about.

Thursday, I called the PRCA office to let them know I would be doctoring out.    If you turn out of a rodeo you are already entered for personal reasons, you are still responsible for paying the entry fee and if you are delinquent, you can be fined on top of that as well.  But, if you are examined by a doctor and found not to be in adequate physical condition to compete and can provide a note stating such, you will be exempted from having to pay the entry fee; this is what is known as a doctor release.  So I went back to the therapist, told him I had decided not to compete in the rodeo that weekend, and asked him to write me up a doctor’s release.

“You should give yourself two weeks” he said.  “If it were me, I wouldn’t ride for a month.  And, you better get an MRI done too.”

“A month?!!”  Damn…  But the advice was coming from a man who I’ve been seeing for over two years and who’s advice I trust; sounds like I’ll have to take it.

While I had turned out of Oakdale, I was still intent on going to California.  I have friends there I wanted to see, and besides, there are rodeos in California all through May.

Louie’s dad said something to me that night that sealed the deal.

“It’s at least 12 hours from here to California.  Your brain could get shook just from the motion of the car, you pass out, and before you know it you could be dead on the side of the highway.  Sorry, but I really don’t want to go to the funeral of a family member before my own.”

Many years as a long distance trucker, he’s driven the highways and byways and has probably seen more than a few gruesome scenes in his time.  While he’s now retired from driving long distances his experience is still valid, so I decided to heed his wise advice.

Friday, the 11th, I called my friend in California and told him what had transpired and that I had decided to stay in Utah a while.  Only a day before the Oakdale Rodeo (12-13 April). 

I had set Oakdale as my goal for the spring, and had spent the entire winter preparing for it; after all, it all began for me at Oakdale last year.  I couldn’t even begin to explain the abnormal level of frustration I felt over the last few days.  On the surface I look fine; but somewhere inside, somewhere out of sight, something is causing me to feel a weird sensation and it doesn’t feel good.  An MRI in Utah would run me $2500 to $3000 and I don’t that kind of money; sure would be nice to have insurance.  But, for that price, I could buy a roundtrip ticket to Japan, get an MRI done, and it would still come out cheaper.  So I guess I’m going back to Japan…yet again.


Jin’ichiro Shibahara



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