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The doctors were very clear on their directions to the Bailey family.
Steven Bailey, the 15-year-old Edinburgh student who suffered a ruptured spleen, lacerated kidney and punctured lung in a football game Aug. 23, would need to be on bed rest for weeks.
This year’s football season was over for him. He would not be able to run track like he planned in the spring.
In fact, he would have to avoid all strenuous activity for at least six months.
“I can’t do any kind of physical activity for six months. That’s been hard to consider,” he said Sunday.
Bailey is home from Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health after being in the hospital for a week recovering from his injuries. After emergency surgery to stem internal bleeding, he likely will be out of football for at least a year.
For an active teen who loves football and running track, the bed rest and six months without any type of strenuous activity required to fully recover will be difficult. But Bailey is confident that he will make it back to the game that he loves.
“I’ll be at the games with my teammates. Then I’ll be back next year,” he said.
How he was injured
Bailey was returning a kickoff in the first half against Manual High School when he was injured.
Up to that point, Bailey remembers being caught up in the excitement and adrenaline of the first game of the season.
“I was playing really good and felt good. Kickoff returns are one of my favorite things to do, and I was looking forward to doing that,” he said.
He initially dropped the ball when it came to him, went back to pick it up and then started towards his blockers.
“I started trying to find a hole too late and got hit by too many people, I guess,” he said.
A pair of Manual tacklers hit him from different directions. Immediately, Bailey knew it had been more than simply a hard hit.
“The pain came right away. I knew that something else was wrong,” he said.
His teammates helped Bailey off the field, and a trainer initially looked at the injury thinking it could be a cracked or bruised rib. That was welcome news to Bailey, who knew that those injuries could heal and wouldn’t keep him off the field too long.
But after trying to sit on the bench with his teammates, Bailey collapsed. The trainer recommended that his parents take him home.
“I knew that something else was wrong. That meant it was something way worse than a cracked rib,” he said.
Bailey’s parents, Harvey and Susan Bailey, were driving their son south on Interstate 65 when he started screaming in pain. They had initially planned to go to the hospital in Columbus, near their home, but instead decided to pull off at Franciscan St. Francis Health on the southside of Indianapolis.
“I was screaming a little bit too much,” he said.
An unexpected visitor
The next day is largely missing from Bailey’s memory. His parents tell him that he needed a blood transfusion, as he had lost almost a quart of blood from his internal injuries.
He was taken by helicopter to Riley Hospital for Children.
The next thing he remembers is sitting in his hospital bed the following day, watching TV. With a combination of pain medication, Bailey would drift in and out of consciousness much of the next five days.
One memory that he does have is receiving a visit from Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck. Luck was at Riley as part of a team event to talk to sick kids.
“I was not expecting him. I was expecting someone else to come in, but when he came, it was incredible,” Bailey said.
Luck signed a poster and football for the Edinburgh teen, as well as providing his autograph for Bailey’s older brother, Tyler, a big Colts fan who also was injured playing football.
‘Had a lot of support’
For Bailey, the main concern has been when he can get back on the field. Initially, he feared it would be years before he could play again.
But his doctors have told him that he could play again next season.
Until then, he’ll be around to cheer on his teammates. Bailey may not be able to participate in the games, but the game of football and the team atmosphere means too much for him to miss.
Plus, he’d like to show his gratitude for the outpouring of support from the team and the Edinburgh community.
“I’ll be there next Friday for sure. I had a lot of support, which is good. I appreciate that and want to let people know,” he said.
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