Meet the documentary team: Esteban Ortiz

Listen to this post read by Esteban Ortiz: 

Esteban is our awesome sound recordist for the documentary. I met Esteban when he came to work on sound for “Cooking with Brain Injury.” I was really excited to have another person without brain injury interested in my work. It was only after we starting filming the documentary that he shared with me the following fascinating reflections.

Alex Kitty tastes some cable as Esteban crouches on the floor and sets up to record at Kris Haas's studio. He is surrounded by paintings.

“Talking with Cheryl Green, the producer of this documentary, I have been given an insight to brain trauma and the effects on the human condition. Learning about brain injuries is an eye opening experience.

I value her thoughts and owe her a realm of possibilities of things that happened to me over thirty years ago. I owe her a debt of gratitude on her insight of injuries I suffered, and never gave a second thought of, because it was never talked about.

Being born and raised in the midwest during 70’s and 80’s, in the town of Toledo, Ohio, about forty minutes south of Detroit, Michigan, where as a young boy everything revolved around playing sports. So as a kid I played organized hockey, baseball, and football. I started playing hockey when I was eight years old and played until my early twenties. I played on organized hockey teams and pick-up games all through those years. I started playing organized football when I was about nine years old, and played all the way up to high school.

Growing up and getting your ‘Bell Rung’ was a fairly common thing. Some incidents worse than others. One incident, I had been knocked out during a hockey game, when I was racing down the ice, and I was tripped from behind, and slammed head first in to the wall behind the goal. I don’t remember how long I was out, or remember anything after being tripped. I hit the wall so hard it cracked my helmet and broke a clamp that held my face guard to the helmet. I remember this, because I kept that helmet like it was a badge of honor. Something I was proud of, a casualty of battle.

Playing football as a child, I was always coached and so was my teammates, was to lead with your head. Coach would say ‘when you tackle, LEAD WITH YOUR HEAD’ and ‘when you wanna go through and get by somebody, LEAD WITH YOUR HEAD’. On many occasions I had my ‘bell rung’, and was dazed seeing stars. We would all go through this. And the remedy would be, you would take a play or two off, and take a knee on the side lines and get your wits back.

It’s been just a few years since studies on concussions in professional sports have been available. But what about all of us that played violent contact sports through their child and teen years? I’m sure there are people that have the same kind, or even worse stories than mine.

I wonder if these migraine headaches, times of depression, loss of equilibrium, having no sense of direction when traveling, and other symptoms I can’t explain could be related to these…What do I call them? Injuries? It’s been such a long time ago.

I never thought of sports I loved to play as a child would hurt me as an adult. I still don’t. Am I fooling myself? Time will tell.”