Anatomy of a head injury

Let’s begin with some different perspectives on what exactly happened last night, during our concert at the Indiana Historical Society.

The Alb was right there when it happened:

“You said your lines, then got up to walk back to the stage. I heard an almighty thwack, and immediately craned my neck around to see what had happened. There you were on the ground, holding your head, groaning. In a split second I realized that I was still on camera, so tried to play it cool, slowly readjusting my head to where it should have been for the piece, and continued with my lines…”

Selfish bastard. Then the Mac:

“I heard some sort of hollow bang, which must have come from the air conditioning duct. You came back onstage to sit down and play, so I didn’t think anything of the noise until I looked across to cue your entrance and there was blood pouring down your face.”

The Phot:

“You didn’t enter where you were supposed to, but I thought, ‘well, he just screwed up his entrance’. Then I looked across, and saw you get up and walk very fast in the direction of the wings.”

The Kap:

“When I saw you cupping your head in your hands, trying to mop up the blood and keep going, I couldn’t help but blurt out – in the middle of the piece – ‘Oh dear!’. I don’t know what happened onstage after you left, because I came running after you.”

The Duv:

“You really should have kept playing. Can you imagine the reaction you would have gotten for finishing the piece with bloody all over your body? The crowd would have gone nuts!”

So much caring.

Near the beginning of Martin Bresnick’s My Twentieth Century I typically head backstage in order to speak some lines (“I wore ridiculous clothes in the 20th century”) to a camera setup in the wings; our voices and images are projected onto a screen in the middle of the stage.

Prior to beginning the Bresnick last night I had been warned several times to watch for the extremely low air-conditioning duct that partially blocks my walking path. After trying to deliver my lines in a folksy, “Ivesian town meeting” style (“I danced like a sumac tree in the 20th century”), I began to high-tail it back towards the stage, paying extra special attention to the wires below so that I didn’t trip. Then I collided with the duct, head-on.

My first thought was, “I hope my teeth are okay” (hmmm); my second thought was, “Matthew is never going to let me live this down”; my third thought was, “This is going to make an awesome blog entry”.

Dazed and a little confused, I staggered back onto stage, feeling mostly okay, except for some hurt pride. I picked up my flute only to feel blood seeping down my forehead into my eyes. I turned away from the audience, brought my right hand to my face and wiped the blood off. Having nowhere to deposit it, I licked it off, thinking that this would solve the problem. But the bloody continued to flow freely; I gave Michael a frantic look (“Do I really have to continue?”), then sort of staggered offstage.

The concert stopped while I ran back to our dressing room to clean up the blood and try to slow the bleeding. Apparently head wounds bleed copiously, which is also the main reason they heal so well. The rest of the ensemble talked tactics, and decided to start up where we left off in the Bresnick, providing I could actually complete the concert.

I felt surprisingly good: I had no real headache, nothing was broken, and I felt pretty lucid. The concert started after a 15-minute delay; I even got a supportive cheer from the crowd. I was armed with a thick wad of gauze, and between the Bresnick and the final piece on the program, Muskal’s Mirrors, I did some soaking, but the bleeding appeared to have stopped.

My head felt swollen, and it throbbed heavily.

The Mac and I stare intently at one another during the last, fast movement of Mirrors, and he seemed to be staring with a gaze of greater intensity than usual. Apparently my wound had opened back up, and in my gyrations I was starting to drip blood on the stage.

Keepin’ it sanitary in 07/08!

If you really want to see the wound, it was photographed by Matt Albert for posterity. Click here.

Below is the offending air-conditioning duct, complete with totally unhelpful fluorescent yellow strip:

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Lisa did a fabulous job bandaging my head:

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All’s well that ends well.

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