Gator Nation showing support for Scot Brantley
Published: Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 7:30 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, June 20, 2009 at 7:30 p.m.
It was a ritual every morning because like me and many of you, Scot Brantley is old school. He’d get up, grab the newspaper and a cup of coffee and enjoy his morning.
“It’s a struggle to do just that,” he said.
Brantley has had a rough time of late, in and out of doctor’s offices and hospitals. The aches and pains he expected after a career of throwing his body into finely tuned athletes at Florida and Tampa Bay. He’s already had hip replacement surgery and his shoulders and neck are such a mess that he was taking a dozen ibuprofen every day.
But the former Gator linebacker — and uncle to UF backup quarterback Johnny Brantley — wasn’t ready for this.
“It has been kind of petrifying,” he said.
He was doing his radio show in Tampa late last fall when it came out of nowhere. A mini-stroke.
Suddenly, he couldn’t talk properly. The stroke hit him in the voice box.
“I couldn’t put a sentence together,” Brantley said. “I gave the signal to cut to commercial, and they called an ambulance.”
At St. Joseph’s in Tampa, they found a hole in Brantley’s heart. The hole caused chunks of plaque to go into his brain and cause the problem. Doctors prescribed an aspirin a day to take care of the problem.
Three weeks later, it happened again.
“It felt like someone had poked me in the eye,” Brantley said.
This mini-stroke caused a swollen optic nerve in his left eye. His vision was impaired to the point where he could not see out of the lower half of his left eye. Today, that vision is about 95 percent impaired.
In May, Brantley had surgery to repair the hole in his heart so that there would be no more of these mini-strokes. But the vision in his left eye likely will never be restored.
“It’s aggravating,” he said. “Everybody has a different opinion. You would think that with the technology we have they’d be able to do something. I keep waiting for a doctor to say, ‘Eat a bag of carrots a day, take some eyedrops and it will clear up.’ But there’s nothing like that.”
I asked Brantley the question that I’m sure is running through your mind. He was known as a ferocious hitter and had a long career of smashing into people. Could all of those hits have taken their toll and caused this?
“People ask me that question and I always say it could have,” he said. “I don’t see how it couldn’t.”
If there is a silver lining to this agony that Brantley has been dealing with — which includes taking a leave of absence from his radio show — it’s the show of support he has received.
“Urban Meyer called, Jeremy Foley called, all kinds of people have called me from the Gator Nation to see how I’m doing,” he said. “The Gator Nation really is amazing.
“I’m not that bad off. I feel like a professional patient. I’ve had my hip replaced and need shoulder surgery. But the eye stuff is the most concerning.”
As a victim of retinitis pigmentosa, I feel Brantley’s frustration. We don’t appreciate our vision until a part of it is taken away. And it is such a helpless feeling.
Hopefully, help is on the way for Scot Brantley.
Contact Pat Dooley at 374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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