Anthony Reddy ” Uncle Tony” was escorted into my clinic many months ago, beautiful wife in tow. His nephew had previously emailed much of the important medical history in case Tony were to forget.
Some of the findings read like a Rocky 18 screenplay:
Despite his declining brain health and physical function he entered my office with large Irish eyes smiling ear to ear. I knew at this point he could make improvement. Like two championship fighters in the early rounds of a prize fight we felt each other out for the first few minutes. I hit him with verbal accounts as to why Rocky Marciano must be considered the greatest fighter of all time. He responded with a stiff jab series of facts about the legendary Jack Dempsey. His cognitive recollection reassured me that his often assaulted melon still had great potential.
“Danny Boy, I know the doctors said that I couldn’t do anything about my old brain and that this is the natural course of aging and boxing but I’d just like to see what I can do. I, like Jack Dempsey am always ready for a good fight!“
I was too, so therein began our journey. His wife revealed how he had been averaging 16/30 on his hospital mental examinations over the past two years and fought back tears while describing that she felt him slipping away at times.
His blood pressure was high, as was his cholesterol. He ate terribly and exercise was all but non-existent. A bad back and two bad knees weren’t helping much either, but he was ready! We agreed to approach this challenge as the biggest fight of his career. His next mental exam was 6 months away, so it was time to whip his brain, and ass, into shape.
* He patiently taught me enough Gaelic to earn a free Guiness at the local Irish pub.
There were many rough patches along the way. To be honest, quitting was contemplated on many occasions, yet Jack Dempsey always helped bring Uncle Tony back for another round:
“ A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t” was written on the clinic whiteboard and every program he ever completed.
Fast forward six months and I remember being nervous the day of the fight/test. He had done all the training, changed his diet, accrued Forrest Gump type walking mileage, lowered his blood pressure and cholesterol and was socially engaged at home more than he had been in years. While his neurologist thought all of this was… “Well isn’t that nice” he abruptly stated that ” the proof is in the pudding and the pudding is the test.”
I received a phone call later that afternoon before they even left the parking lot:
“ I can’t sing and I can’t dance, but I can lick any SOB in the house!” Tony shouts another Dempsey quote with complete exaltation.
“I scored a bloody 26/30! The doctor couldn’t believe it and stood totally speechless starting out his window. I won the title Danny Boy!“
I was over the moon. A victory party was planned for his local pub The Irish Rose. For one night the water, walking and training was replaced by Guiness, dancing and darts. The next morning, Uncle Tony was back in training.