Growing up as an athlete, Dr Gair experienced many injuries, which at the time made him feel unlucky. However, in retrospect, it has given him a unique perspective to help patients because he does not only understand these conditions from learning about them in a book, he has experienced the pain of them firsthand as a patient.
His football injuries started with a knee injury at 10 years old that ended his season. At 11, he fractured his tailbone and was again done. In high school there were groin injuries, ankle sprains, rotator cuff injuries, neck strains, stingers, hamstring tears, wrist injuries, and of course concussions… quite a few of them!
The worst was the back injury, as the xrays and MRI revealed multiple bulged discs, a spondylolisthesis (one vertebra slipped forward on the one below it), and an old compression fracture that changed the shape of the bone from rectangular to triangular.
On top of that, he had at least 7 auto accidents, one where he was hit by a police officer who ran a red light without sirens on and t-boned his car at roughly 75 mph. That resulted in a concussion that was severe enough that he had to make special arrangements to take tests because his brain could not function normally for several months.
He said, “I could not believe how bad this was. I went from being a very fast test taker to needing extra time. I found that I would fall asleep after reading just one page because my brain would get so fatigued, and then I would not remember what I had read. When I would sit down to take a test, even though I knew the material I could not put my thoughts together on paper to write paragraphs that worked. I was terrified that I would stay like that forever.”
Thankfully that resolved over time, but it truly was terrifying for him, especially when most of the doctors he saw told him “it’s all just in your head, and you will be fine in a couple of weeks.”
Beyond that, he also suffered from ADD and even Tourette’s as a kid after a strep infection. Notes home from teachers often said that “he is a bright student but just can’t sit still and focus. This prevents him from living up to his potential.”
Dr Gair believes that all these injuries help give him a unique perspective when it comes to treating patients as he can relate to what they are feeling from his firsthand experience.