Ryan Hermes and Addesyn Nailor have a lot in common, a big reason their 7-month-old relationship is going strong.
They love to hang out with friends, catch a flick when they can, and travel. In fact, they recently returned from a trip to Hermes’ aunt’s place in Georgia.
They’ve even both had a brush with “The Hidden Injury.” But Hermes, a recent Sterling High School grad, has had at least nine concussions. Nailor, who will be a senior at Rock Falls, has had one. In fact, it’s the only injury she has ever had.
One was enough.
“It really sucks,” Nailor said. “Some people want to get injured. Trust me, they don’t.”
Imagine nine concussions. Not to mention Hermes suspects there have been more minor ones.
“That’s crazy, and it can’t be good,” Nailor said.
Nailor, as scrappy as 5-foot-4 guards come, suffered a concussion and a sprained neck diving for a loose ball during a game midway through last basketball season. She missed a week of school and about a month of play, including the prestigious State Farm Classic in Bloomington.
“It was really hard watching the girls play,” Nailor said. “I wanted to be out there and help them.”
She can’t begin to empathize with what Ryan’s separation anxiety was like, or what he continues to deal with.
Until recently, he woke up every day with a headache, and still regularly complains of them.
“He says it every day almost,” Nailor said. “Not so much anymore. But he used to. He has medicine, but he doesn’t always take it. So when he doesn’t, I tell him that’s his fault.”
“It’s kind of an everyday thing,” Hermes said. “and I don’t even really think about it anymore.”
Nailor, a key cog on Rock Falls’ softball team, didn’t witness Hermes’ last concussion in early April against LaSalle-Peru. He slid into home plate, and his head connected with the catcher’s knee, unceremoniously bringing his sports career to an end with about 6 weeks left in the season.
“I got a phone call, and I couldn’t believe it at first,” Nailor said. “I thought they were kidding. It was scary.”
New symptoms resulted.
“That one probably had the worst side-effects besides headaches,” Hermes said. “I had zero appetite. I lost 20 pounds.”
About 2 weeks later, his parents drove him to a game about 15 minutes away from their home. He got down three bites of a sandwich during the drive.
“I tried to get him to eat, and he just wouldn’t,” Nailor said. “It was weird.”
During her rehab, Nailor tried to honor doctors’ orders – resting in a dark room and avoiding any mental stimulation. But, despite her mother’s efforts, Nailor strayed from the fastest path to a clean bill of health.
“I snuck in my phone sometimes and texted,” she said. “My mom tried to hide it from me.”
That deviation from the rehab program is rather innocent compared to Hermes’ after his first concussion during his senior year.
“Just looking at the TV would make me sick,” Hermes said. “But I didn’t shut it down. It doesn’t happen. I kept texting, watching TV and whatever.”
Nailor admits she worries. Hermes appreciates her concern, but is conscious that his relentless symptoms can wear on even the sweetest of hearts.
“Sometimes I still think she gets annoyed,” Hermes said.
Turnabout is fair play. Nailor, a Bears fan, just might get under Hermes’ Packer-backing skin on Sundays this fall.
“She doesn’t know anything about football,” Hermes said.
“Oh my God,” Nailor said. “I know about when they catch the ball, run and score touchdowns. That’s all that really matters.”
To read more from our special series on sports concussion, please check out The Hidden Injury project page on saukvalley.com. Click here to visit.