In the space of six dizzying months in 2022, George Garton went from realizing his childhood dream of playing cricket to the nightmare of seriously contemplating retirement at the age of 25.
Thankfully the roller coaster has taken another turn up and after spending a summer trying to overcome what is now believed to have been an undiagnosed blood clot in his lung, the Sussex all-rounder is back and will do so next time. week with Joburg. Super Kings in the newly formed SA20 franchise in South Africa.
“I feel great, 100 percent,” says Garton, who credits a chance encounter at her grandmother’s 90th birthday party with Dr. Rob Galloway, a clinical professor of emergency medicine at the Royal Hospital. Sussex, for putting him on the road to recovery.
The story began in January when, following a second bout of relatively mild covid, Garton was selected in the England T20I squad for the series in Barbados and received his first cap.
A holiday in the United States followed, but then, upon returning to England and resuming training in Hove, it became apparent that something serious was amiss. The more she worked, the worse she felt. Just getting up to make coffee took his breath away. The three-minute walk from his house to County Ground would be like running a half marathon. His heart rate was racing and a simple attempt to take one down triggered a virtual panic attack.
“It was like running into a brick wall — my body started shaking violently and I thought I was going to pass out,” says Garton, who was immediately taken in for a series of tests with a cardiologist that included an MRI and a 48-hour ESG. .
Nothing was found, leading the doctors to an unsatisfactory hypothesis. Long covid. But what does that really mean?
“When someone says ‘long covid,’ you’re not sure what’s wrong,” says Garton. “It seems to be a general statement. It’s, ‘Oh, I feel tired,’ but everyone can feel tired and even though it was such a different kind of fatigue, it doesn’t feel like a proper injury.
“With almost every other injury, there is a time frame. Whether it’s two days or two years, our brain can process it. That was the worst. They told me they were 99 percent sure it would get better, but no one knows. I woke up every day hoping to feel good.”
Garton tried to keep fighting, and given the circumstances, it was remarkable that he should have played all of last summer.
He even turned in a man of the match performance in winning 3-7 against the Welsh Fire but, after batting for two hours to score 52 against Middlesex, his heart rate was still above 100bpm some four hours after he had done so. finished playing
“I tried, but it was the worst season of my career,” Garton says. His mental and physical anguish had brought him to the point where he was contemplating a life after cricket.
“Within yourself as an athlete, you know your 100 percent and if you can’t do that, it’s more torture to keep playing than not playing at all,” he says.
“To think that I’ve been playing with a blood clot was actually quite an achievement”
However, it was later in the summer that she attended her grandmother’s 90th birthday party. She had spent more than 40 years volunteering at the Royal Sussex and among those joining the celebration was Dr. Galloway, whom she had known since he was a trainee doctor. “I talked to him about how I was feeling, going through each event, and at the end, he said, ‘I don’t think you’ve had Covid for very long.’”
Garton says Dr Galloway thought it particularly unusual that he apparently should have recovered from both bouts of covid before the broader symptoms of fatigue began. A professor of hematology was also consulted and it is now strongly believed that Garton actually had a blood clot in his lung. “Two risk factors for a blood clot are flying a lot and apparently covid can give you sticky blood,” says Garton, who says the new diagnosis fits all the symptoms, especially a typical six-month period before even of an attack. the young body clears out a lung clot and you start to feel normal again.
“It took a huge weight off my shoulders because I had been worrying about something unknown that I would possibly never get better from,” says Garton, who, since September, has gradually increased his training to the point where he now feels “stronger.” than I have ever been.”
He says Michael Yardy, the former Sussex academy director and now England U19 coach, who is also a qualified psychologist, was another big influence last year.
“To think that I’ve been playing all that time with a blood clot was actually quite an achievement, regardless of how I did it,” he says.
“My mentality has changed enormously. Before maybe I was a little naive about my training, and what I wanted and how much I wanted it. Having a period like this, feeling so bad and thinking that maybe I can’t do this anymore, my hunger and desire to make the most of the opportunity is through the roof. Mentally it has made me much stronger and determined to achieve what I want instead of just waiting for things to fall into place.
And what are those goals? “To be as good as I can be. I want to play all three formats for England but firstly making sure my performances for Sussex are up to scratch.”
Having tried international cricket and seen the intensity and competitiveness of training up close, as well as learning what he calls “life lessons” from veteran players like Jason Roy, Eoin Morgan and Virat Kohli, he has also only stung. his appetite
Garton emphasizes that “post viral fatigue is a real thing and a lot of people suffer from it”, but that “there have to be other people who have been put under this blanket statement” of prolonged Covid.
“Please try to find the cause,” he says. “Now that I have been diagnosed with a possible blood clot, my thinking has completely changed. I can turn the page and I’m really excited to get out there and play and do what I love.”