Former rugby international Michael Lipman has opened up on his heart-breaking struggles with dementia during an emotional TV interview.
The 42-year-old played in more than 200 matches during his career, appearing for Bristol and Bath between 2001 and 2009. He also earned 10 caps for England, but was forced into retirement after suffering from short-term memory loss and severe headaches, which he says were caused by the estimated 30 concussions he suffered during his time on the field.
“Every time I got knocked out on the field, all I heard from the doctors and the physios right there as I was lying unconscious, they asked me three questions [when I come to] – ‘what day is it? Who are we playing? What’s the score?’ I remember those questions so vividly, ’cause it happened so often to me,” he told The Sunday Project.
READ MORE: Liam Williams reveals reasons for Scarlets exit
Lipman fully admits he kept putting his body on the line every time he crossed the whitewash, adding he was totally unaware of the damage he was doing.
The former flanker, who grew up in Sydney, recalls being hit so hard during his England debut against the All Blacks that he remembers “absolutely nothing” about the game.
When he moved back to Australia to play for the Melbourne Rebels, his concussions became more frequent, with the symptoms also becoming more severe.
“I realised something was going on, but I didn’t show it and didn’t say anything,’ he said. And no one asked if he was OK, he added.
The after-effects of his final concussion forced him into retirement in the summer of 2012, but the after-effects lasted long after the former flanker hung up his boots.
You can watch the emotional interview in the tweet below
The interview describes how one day, Lipman disappeared from a lunch, then got home several hours later, looking for breakfast at 6pm. He doesn’t remember the incident.
The effects are then laid bare in shocking circumstances during the Channel 10 interview, when he looks at his hands in confusion.
His wife asks: “Are you OK? You’re bleeding.”
“I don’t know what’s happened. What happened?” he replies. “What am I bleeding from?”
When discussing his family life, Lipman becomes increasingly and visibly emotional.
“A lot of the time, I put on such a brave face and – but deep down, there’s this little thing in my – you know, in my belly just saying, you know, ‘you’re a complete and utter burden to your family and society, and you’re an absolute waste of space’.”
At this point, Lipman breaks down in tears and is forced to stop the interview to compose himself.
He then sums up: “This needs to be spoken about. Because then someone else could be going through the exact same thing. These are the realities.”