By LIAM DURKIN
TRARALGON Football-Netball Club senior football captain Dylan Loprese is ready to get back onto the field.
A return to playing appeared a mere fantasy back in May after the Maroons skipper suffered a severe injury during the Round 6 game against Sale.
Loprese had his ribs crunched after going back with the flight, and ended up spending three days in intensive care at the Alfred Hospital.
Since then his recovery has been steady, to the point where he now feels he can get through a game.
“Recovery is going well, the last couple of weeks has been really good,” he said.
“The last month I’ve been back doing contact training and running flat out.”
Speaking of the injury, Loprese said he initially didn’t have too much cause for concern when he went down in the third term of the match against the Magpies.
“I got a good knee to the ribs and was in a bit of pain but didn’t think too much of it so I kept playing the game out,” he explained.
Loprese reported that while he was struggling to breathe at the three quarter time huddle he thought he only had broken ribs – which he felt was no justifiable reason to go off.
As the last term unfolded his situation worsened and he was taken from the ground with around five minutes to go.
“When I realised I was running and couldn’t breathe and couldn’t get any air in I was a bit of a liability and couldn’t do much … but being a bit stubborn I didn’t want to come off until I was told that’s it,” he said.
“Once they brought me off Leah (head trainer Leah Quenault) wouldn’t let me back on.
“The pain was nine out of 10, just a stabbing pain in your ribs, it was excruciating to be fair.
“After the match I thought ‘gee I’m in a bit of trouble here’. I went to the Latrobe Regional Hospital and had some x-rays and had two broken ribs, a couple of holes in my lungs and diaphragm.”
Having driven from Sale to LRH, Loprese and his partner Bree waited for the diagnosis from doctors, which came back as liquid in the cavities of the lungs.
From there, doctors had to insert a tube in his lungs, which signalled the start of something much more serious.
Amazingly, Loprese lost 700 millilitres of blood in seven seconds, which prompted
doctors at LRH to send him by ambulance to Melbourne.
He arrived in Melbourne around 5am on the Sunday, where he had a number of CT scans and was in and out of consciousness all day due to the medication he was on.
At about 2pm surgeons at the Alfred treated his lungs through keyhole surgery, but unfortunately his situation got progressively worse later in the day.
A further CT scan showed there was still a large volume of liquid in the cavity, which led to a team of trauma specialists being called in.
“They had a meeting with me and said they were going to cut me open and have a look, I was told I was probably going to go into a coma for 24 hours so be prepared for that,” he explained.
“That was a bit of a shock but I hadn’t slept since the Friday night before footy so I was pretty keen to have a nap.”
After making some calls to family and friends Loprese went under the knife, where a delicate procedure to stitch up a hole in his diaphragm was undertaken – there was three and a half litres of blood in his diaphragm.
“In total I had 10 litres of blood transfusion,” he said.
“I was in ICU for three days, in the ward for three and then came home on the Friday night.
“After the operation there was still liquid in the lungs so I had to do a bit of physio to get rid of that, just with deep breathing to stop pneumonia coming in which was their biggest worry.
“In hospital I just had to basically lie down on the highest pain killers I could possibly have for six days and wait to come home.”
Loprese lost eight kilos while in the hospital, with feedback from doctors and nurses saying his injury was quite freakish.
“I couldn’t eat, I just ate jelly and ice cream for basically the whole six days (in hospital) and then slowly started to eat,” he said.
“Being a nice Italian boy I then had some pasta for four days in a row and started to eat from there.”
His rehab consisted of building his breathing back up to normality – a skill most if not all people would take for granted.
“The first three weeks after the surgery I couldn’t really breathe in too far so I had to do 100 deep breaths a day as deep as I could go,” he said.
“It’s harder than you realise when you normally breathe pretty well and all of a sudden you can’t breathe at all. You have to try and re-inflate your lung and diaphragm.”
A plumber by trade, Loprese was back at work four weeks after the accident and said it took him close to nine weeks to get back to what he felt was close enough to 100 per cent.
Although not out on the ground, the Maroons skipper has been able to showcase his leadership in different capacities.
“My duties as captain is more than just playing, you have to help out at training and helping the young forwards and defenders,” he said.
“It’s terrific to captain Traralgon, I never thought I’d be doing it coming from where I’ve come from.
“It’s an honour … I love the footy club.”
Captaining the side in his absence on game day has been Matt Northe, who Loprese said had done a fine job.
“He has been really good, he’s been unreal, always leads from the front. Being a great mate it’s always good to hand it over to him,” he said.
Loprese has kept himself involved with the Maroons during his recovery, fulfilling roles such as reserves goal umpire and senior runner.
“I only got kicked off once by the umpire (while being runner),” he said laughingly.
“I asked Besty (senior coach Jake Best) if I could do the running and that was the bestthing I could have done – I got a little bit more fitness and was out on the field.”
Loprese said he always had intentions of getting back onto the field this season.
“I told the club straight away what my plan was and made a deal with Leah that if I ticked all the boxes I’d be able to play the Moe game (scheduled for July 17 before the lockdown),” he said.
“I told everyone I spoke to I was going to play on the 17th. There was no ifs, buts or maybes – it was just mum I had to convince.
“Once I could take a few hits and give a few back, a few of the boys got me a couple of nice ones which gave me some confidence and from there we were good to go.”
With the football season set to go ahead this weekend, Traralgon supporters will be wanting to see the man in the number 26 guernsey taking a few trademark contested grabs inside forward 50 once again.
The man himself has further incentive to pull on the Maroons jumper again, as he is currently on 99 senior games and one more will see his name go up on the locker.
Loprese wished to thank everyone who had been part of his comeback journey.
“I’ve had a lot of support, messages from the footy club and people around which has really helped,” he said.
“I couldn’t thank everyone enough who supported me in hospital, I appreciate that coming from everyone and anyone inside the club and outside the club that sent a message or reached out – thanks a lot – I appreciate it more than you imagine.”