A Little Brain Surgery Doesn't Stop This Guy

Tom Hart and Kevin O'Connell

Friday, April 5th -- the air temperature at a high of 45 degrees. Water temperature: 48 degrees. Tom Hart, Kevin O'Connell and I stood at the dock, bundled up in warm clothes, putting on drysuits.  We were getting ready to barefoot water ski on a lake we called Barefoot Paradise, a private lake way outside of Chicago.

Last fall, during the last ski of the season, the three of us were challenging each other on slalom runs behind the boat.  Tom took a fall, but he seemed fine when he climbed in the boat.  A short time later, we wrapped up the barefooting and headed for the dock.

That's when we noticed Tom had sort of lost his mind. He started blathering about a kneeboard and didn't remember his fall. Kevin and I looked at each other.  We started asking him questions.  He was confused at times.

"Hey Tom, don't you remember--we're married and we have four kids," I teased him.  He definitely wasn't confused about that!

Kevin and I figured Tom probably had a concussion. Kevin called Tom's wife, who is a nurse--she wanted him checked out at her hospital.  After 17 hours in the emergency room, the doctors discovered some fluid on Tom's brain.  Weeks later, Tom went in for surgery to put in a shunt.  At the time, the doctors weren't sure if Tom could return to the sport due to the high speed falls.

The idea of never being able to barefoot water ski again was a tough concept for Tom to deal with.

Imagine having to give up your passion...

Well, that's how we ended up in 48 degree water last week.  Tom was cleared to barefoot again--and as soon as the ice melted, he pulled his boat out of storage and we all took off for Barefoot Paradise.  Of course, we let him take the first run!




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