Pearce feared he would not play again
"Nerve-racking" and "scary" are two of the phrases used by Krystian Pearce to describe the traumatic spell which has seen the Torquay United defender deal with a two worrying incidents which he feared might threaten his whole career.
Speaking for the first time since he returned to action, after a training-ground collapse and then a three-day stay in hospital, Pearce said: "I thought at one point that I wasn't going to play again.
"When someone is saying your career might be over, and you're only 23 and just starting out in the game, it's a scary thought you might have to think of doing something else with your life."
The Birmingham-born centre-back, who joined the Gulls from Notts County in the summer, first collapsed in training last month and was then taken ill after United's 2-1 League Two defeat at Newport County two days later.
"It first happened on the Thursday morning in training. I had a load of checks on my heart, which were clear, so I trained the next day," he said.
"I didn't feel so good after the game at Newport – I was struggling to breathe, light-headed, and I was in the room with their club doctor feeling half-here and half-not here.
"I spent three days in hospital up there while they checked me out. I came back to Torquay, for more blood tests with our club doctor and others."
After possible heart problems had been eliminated, it was feared that Pearce might have sickle-cell syndrome, a condition which sees red cells change shape under stress or exercise, making it harder for the heart to pump blood around the body.
That has also been discounted, at least the full version of the condition.
"I did collapse a couple of times when I was ten or 11 years old, so the doctors were concerned about that," said Pearce.
"It was nerve-racking this time, because I'd been told I was OK [after the training-ground incident], and then three days later I was back in hospital.
"But after all the tests, I was cleared to train again last Tuesday, I felt OK through the week and I was fine playing at Wycombe last Saturday."
Pearce's blood is still being monitored weekly, and he is reviewing his diet. "It's still at the back of my mind a bit, but it's good to be back playing," he said.
"All I'm thinking about now is Mansfield at Plainmoor on Saturday – that's a big day for us, because we need to get back to winning ways."
The other casualty of what manager Alan Knill called that "nightmare Thursday" was Pearce's fellow centre-back Aaron Downes, who went down with a cartilage injury.
The Aussie defender, who had surgery only eleven days ago, is making remarkable progress.
Knill said: "Aaron should be back a lot earlier than expected – it may be a bit optimistic, but he could be back as early as next week."