SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — When Notre Dame linebacker Danny Spond was lying in a hospital bed with a debilitating headache in August, he wasn't worried about whether he'd play football again. He wanted to know whether he'd ever walk again.
"I didn't know whether that was going to be a possibility," Spond said. "That was the scariest moment for me."
The pain struck the junior from Littleton, Colo., about an hour into a summer football practice. He started getting a headache, but didn't think much about it. Then it started getting worse. His vision blurred, his face started tingling and became numb.
"It hit so hard and it was so intense. It was a complete numbness," Spond said. "It was a terrifying feeling."
An ambulance took him to the hospital and there was some fear originally he might have suffered a stroke. That was quickly ruled out, but it took doctors a while to figure out what was wrong while he was in bed, the left side of his body numb.
He was finally diagnosed with having a semi-hemiplegic migraine, which involves pain so bad that part of the body just shuts down. He remembers having a long talk with his father, Don, about whether he would play football again. He spent four days in the hospital and then had to undergo rehabilitation to learn to walk again. His left leg was limp, so he had to focus on picking up his leg, landing on his heel and pushing off with his toes.
"If I tried to speed it up, it went limp again. So it was just a slow process of training those muscles again to do what they normally do," Spond said.
When doctors told him they didn't believe the migraine was football-related, he decided to try to return. He sat out the first two games as he worked to regain his strength, but returned against Michigan State. He has been a solid contributor on a defense for the third-ranked Fighting Irish (10-0) that ranks eighth in the nation in total defense and first in scoring defense heading into Saturday's game against Wake Forest (5-5).