Polo Players Edition

FEB 2019

Polo Players' Edition is the official publication of the U.S. Polo Association. Dedicated to the sport of polo, it features player profiles, game strategy, horse care, playing tips, polo club news and tournament results.

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14 POLO P L A Y E R S E D I T I O N U S E F U L S BY GWEN RIZZO CAUTIONARY TALE P olo player Juan Martinez- Baez was playing a tournament at Point Clear Polo Club in Point Clear, Alabama in mid-October. After the tournament, he made the three- hour trek home the following Monday. That night, he wasn't feeling well and thought he was starting to get sick. Little did he know the fight for his life he was about to embark on. By the next morning he had a fever, was cold and his body ached. He chalked it up to the flu, and continued to work, taking care of horses and playing a prac- tice game. To add insult to injury, while turning horses out, one pulled back and he injured his shoulder. Over the next two days, he continued to have flu-like symp- toms but when he started seeing "floaters" in his right eye, he called his uncle, Polo Baez, to ask if he could play for him the following weekend in Point Clear. On Friday, he woke up with extreme back pain. "I had a lot of back pain so I went to the chiropractor," Juan explained. "I was also weak and seeing black spots but I thought it was just from the fever." When he was loading up horses for his uncle and boss, his vision in his right eye was getting worse so he arranged for someone to drive his rig. By the time they arrived in Point Clear, where he was staying with his girlfriend, Ericka Fuch- sloch, he was complaining of joint pain and went to bed. By the next morning, he had no vision in his right eye so Fuchsloch took him to Thomas Hospital in Fairhope. He was swabbed for the flu, but the test was nega- tive. Doctors suspected he was diabetic and possibly had an auto immune disease or rheumatoid arthritis. He was told to follow up with an eye ultra- sound on Wednes- day and sent home. One of the players, Dr. Ken- nie Bramlett, is an orthopedic surgeon from Birmingham. He called Fuchsloch and asked that she bring Juan to the field so he could check on his shoulder injury. After tak- ing one look at him, he told Fuchsloch to take him to Birming- ham right away. He called his friend, Dr. Bob Morris, who is a retinal specialist. Morris agreed to see Juan at his office Monday morning. By the time Juan got there, his joint pain was worse and his left knee and right elbow were swollen, hot and painful. Morris scheduled him for emergency eye surgery, but because of the other symptoms he was having, sent him to the ER to get checked out first. There, they drained his knee and did blood work. Afraid he might perma- nently lose his vision, Morris had him go to Callahan Eye Hospital for the surgery before being admitted to the hospital. His eye was full of infection. After surgery, he was admitted to the infec- tious disease unit of University of Alaba- ma at Birmingham Hospital. The following day an orthopedic team performed open joint surgery on his right elbow, wrist and left knee to wash out the infection. When cultures came back from his joints, eye and blood, doctors determined he had Streptococcus Equi, basically the same infection found in horses with Stran- gles, also known as equine distemper. He began a course of antibiotics specific to the infection. He had his second eye surgery that day, and a third surgery three days later to repair a torn retina and insert a silicone bubble to help keep the retina in place, allow doctors to see the back of the eye and help prevent new infections. Doctors described the infection as "sticky," explaining that it likes to hide in the body. He continued to have tests to Polo player contracts serious infection from horse Juan was playing in Point Clear's fall 8-goal when he started feeling sick. CAROLINE BRAMLETT/LCBSTYLE.COM

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