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Hollowell Coming Back from Health Scare

Hollowell Coming Back from Health Scare
Todd Hollowell

Todd Hollowell is normally one of the fittest pros on the FLW Tour. Now in his 40s, the former pro baseball player eats right and exercises. Typically, his health isn’t an obstacle, but a recent diagnosis of viral labyrinthitis, an inner ear disorder, has threatened to derail his Forrest Wood Cup dreams.

The condition has more or less floored Hollowell over the last few weeks. It all started on day two of practice for the FLW Tour season finale at St. Clair, when he suffered an extreme bout of vertigo.

“I went to the 9 Mile ramp on our second day of practice,” Hollowell recalls. “The wind was blowing pretty decent that morning. There were probably 2-foot rollers out there. I remember launching, and Jeremy Lawyer called me over. He and Joe Webster were sitting there contemplating whether or not to go out on the lake because it was blowing pretty good. We kinda laughed about it, and I kinda joked about it. I told them to just go slow. ‘You’re in a Ranger. You’ll get there.’ And I didn’t think twice. I idled out, took off and went about a half a mile, and I thought I was going to get sick. The waves were nothing I’d never seen before. I’ve seen it way worse than that.

“The waves were bad, but I’d lost my whole sense of balance and equilibrium. I tried to stand up, and I fell down. I actually tried to fish. I made two drops with a drop-shot, kneeling on the front deck. I just thought I was seasick. My dad said maybe we should get off the lake, so I idled into a marina. I got into the harbor, and it was slick calm and I felt like I was in 8-foot waves. I asked dad to tie up the boat, and I literally crawled out of the boat on all fours and puked.”

Over the next few hours, Hollowell vomited every 20 or 30 minutes and became dehydrated. Eventually, helped by the members of the marina he’d pulled into, Hollowell and his dad got off the water. His father, Terry, took him to the emergency room at St. John Hospital and Medical Center in Detroit.

“I couldn’t walk straight, and they refused to let me go home,” says Hollowell. “I had all the tests and an MRI, and I had everything done and there wasn’t anything wrong. I spent about 36 hours in the hospital at Detroit. Finally, I got discharged Tuesday night. Nobody knew what was wrong, but I felt OK Tuesday night.

“I figured I had enough experience on St. Clair to get a check, even with no practice. And I had anti-nausea medication and anti-vertigo medicine, and I took that and went fishing. I was somewhat able to fish normally on Thursday, but when I got back Thursday and the medicines wore off, my entire body was sore, I couldn’t move and I had the worst migraine of my life. And then at about 9 o’clock that night I had vertigo again. I know my body, and I just knew something was wrong. I had to make one of the most difficult decisions of my life, and it’s the first time I’ve ever withdrawn from anything in my life. I told Bill Taylor [FLW Tour tournament director] that the best decision for me would be to not go out on St. Clair on Friday.”

Hollowell ended up going back home to get healthy, but it didn’t happen. By this time, he knew he was a long way from just seasick. A specialist in Indianapolis became nearly certain he had viral labyrinthitis, which can cause hearing loss, vertigo, dizziness and nausea.

“The next two weeks for me were really bad,” he says. “I didn’t leave my house one week. I didn’t drive. I was afraid to drive. I had really bad flulike symptoms. So, quite honestly, only in the last few days have I returned to feeling like a human being.”

At this point, the worst should be behind the Indiana pro, but he’s not entirely out of the woods. Because of some of the lingering symptoms and the possibility of more bouts of vertigo, he’s still on a prescription to reduce fluid in his inner ear, as well as a low sodium diet. Hollowell also has an anti-vertigo medication handy as well as ibuprofen for headaches. If all goes well, he should be fishing his second Forrest Wood Cup in a few days with no major problems, though almost certainly not at full strength.

One very tangible effect that might play at the Cup is his hearing. Since St. Clair, Hollowell has lost about 50 percent or more of the hearing in his left ear. So, if fish are going to school on Ouachita, he’d prefer they come up on the right side of the boat.

“Now I’m having to get my stamina back,” adds Hollowell. “Like, I couldn’t walk to the mailbox without my legs shaking. I’m having to train my body again. I feel great now, but now I have to figure out how to stand up for eight or 10 hours and last in the heat

“We’re all given challenges in life, and we’re all given the choice to see those tests as what they are and let them become your testimony,” says Hollowell. “Everyone has their own challenges and their own problems, but you can let your tests become your testimony and make the most of it. Life is precious to me now. What I’ve learned from this is that there are no guarantees in life. It’s helped me have a newfound appreciation for each day.”

Tags: jody-white  headline-story  2018-08-10-forrest-wood-cup- 

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