Two weeks after a near-fatal injury on the soccer field sent Lakeside's John Martin to a four-day stay in a Milledgeville, Ga., hospital, the Panther soccer player has quite a story to tell.
The senior, a starter on the boy's soccer team, was playing in a region match at Baldwin on March 2. Unknown to him and his parents, Martin was playing with mononucleosis, a common disease that causes headaches, fatigue and an enlarged spleen.
"I actually felt like I was feeling better," Martin said; he had battled a headache and tiredness during the week leading up to the game. "I was playing pretty good."
Late in the first half, Martin positioned himself to head a ball punted by the goalkeeper.
A Baldwin defender also went for the ball but instead kneed Martin in the abdomen.
He immediately fell to the ground, in pain.
"I thought it was my ribs," he said. "It hurt, but it wasn't too bad. I kept playing and finished the half."
But Martin did not finish the game. In the second half he tried to play but quickly signaled for a substitute after the pain became overwhelming.
Although he didn't know it at the time, his spleen, enlarged by the mononucleosis, had ruptured.
After Martin had trouble walking and complained of a spreading pain in his midsection after the game, his mother and a registered nurse with the team helped the injured Panther get to Oconee Regional Medical Center in Milledgeville.
"He couldn't walk, and he couldn't take a breath because the pain was so bad," John's mother, Teri Martin, said. "He fainted in the emergency room. They got fluids in him very quickly, and he had a blood pressure of 80."
Mrs. Martin said that for the next four days, her son was in intensive care at the hospital.
Lakeside boy's soccer coach Dave Morgan wanted to stay with his injured player but had to get the rest of the team home.
After Morgan dropped his players off at Lakeside late Thursday night, he drove back to Milledgeville that night to be with Martin.
"I wasn't surprised to see him there," Martin said. "That's just how he is. He's a caring guy."
Despite the severity of the injury, Martin did not lose his spleen.
After 48 hours of treatment, his body stabilized, and he was released four days after the game.
Under doctor's orders, Martin will miss two weeks of school, can't drive for a month and is prohibited from playing any contact sports for at least six months.
Martin's parents said the time on the sidelines is a small price to pay for their son's near-fatal accident.
They also said they have a message for other parents.
"Love your children and cherish every minute," Mrs. Martin said. "If you have an athlete playing sports, it can happen just like that. It was such a scary thing."
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