This has been brewing in my head ever since news of his accident came out.
People who knew him tweeting and posting messages like "He's a fighter, he'll come through it". Now, I really like Schumacher and I hope nobody thinks I am being cynical here, but I thought at the time, "The Michael Schumacher you knew has gone."
But I didn't say anything to anyone because what do I know? Richard Hammond has managed to keep up his TV career since his accident, and most people probably can't notice a different with him, but I can, and my mother can, and he certainly can and said as much in his book. So you keep quiet because you know that people won't understand and they'll think you're wrong.
But the longer this goes on, the worse it gets. And you feel bad for him, and his family and friends. I remember watching a program on BBC3 about young drivers who wreck lives, presented by one of the new young reporters - this young lad's family let the cameras into the hospital and filmed him as they started to bring him round after he had a pretty bad head injury and I started crying; I know it's not because I feel sorry for myself because I don't any more, and I don't remember that stage of my recovery so why would I cry? Perhaps I can do empathy after all: I realise it's because I know what that poor boy will have to go through in the coming months and years. Perhaps he'll have to learn to walk again, talk again, read again. And I know that learning to walk again is not a trivial thing to do: I had a permanent knot of frustration in my stomach as my physio, a wonderful, patient man whom I detested more than anyone else in the history of mankind, put me through excruciating exercises to retrain my brain to balance and move my limbs more slowly, more deliberately instead of lurching around from place to place. I know from talking to my mother what an adjustment his family will have to make (or maybe I'm just projecting, but either way my pity is for him rather than myself).
Even now, I hope I am wrong about it.
Headway posted a piece that appeared on the BBC website where they (the BBC) spoke to two doctors (a former F1 head doctor and a trustee or chair of Headway) about the likely outcomes of Schumi's injuries. One said that if Michael Schumacher is able to walk, feed and dress himself again it will be a triumph of human resiliency and modern neuropathic care (or words to that effect). I think the other one of the two said (essentially) that it was unlikely that he would retain significant portions of his old personality. But they were talking without having read his medical notes. Maybe there is a chance?
To read in the media today that he is being brought around from his coma (which is fantastic news) and he is responding to instructions, with the implication being that all will be well, was encouraging. But the trouble is they seem to speak like people who see Jack Branning from Eastenders recover from a gunshot wound to the head and be back to his old self within a couple of weeks and expect it to be like that in real life. There is a crass lack of understanding and research going into these stories.
There is talk of him making a full recovery (possibly on the message boards rather than in the stories themselves), but there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of what the words "full recovery" mean. For his own sake and his family's, I hope I am wrong, but where head injuries are concerned those words seldom, if ever, mean the subject getting back to normal, to the way they were before the event.
Michael is mortal, and mortals need brains. When clots or bleeds affect he functioning of their brains, some of the effects will be irrecoverable. Think Michael Watson, a boxer in peak physical condition minutes before his trauma, and people might start understanding.
I pray for Schumi and will him to miraculously take up his bed and walk, but I fear a much worse outcome than the media and, as a result, the general public are waiting for,