Monday, November 18, 2013

Head Checked - now it's time for a GUT CHECK!

When will I learn to listen to my "GUT?"

Two years ago I started reading articles on cOnCUSsiOnS in preparation for all the sports that my son enjoys playing. The hits were getting harder, balls and pucks were coming faster, and kids were getting bigger. I read everything I came across - Good, Bad, Ugly and even ... Scary. I wanted to be prepared if, God forbid, we were ever in that situation. Last year, our beautiful, strong, athletic niece had a serious concussion in a high school basketball game. She has recovered completely, but I saw what that recovery looked like. It wasn't pretty. But the symptoms and the recovery seemed to be in-line with what I had read and learned about this very serious condition.  Again, I was naive and felt reassured that surely I would be prepared and know what it would look like if, again, God forbid it would happen to B.

All this preparation went out the window on Saturday night.

Playing one of the nastiest teams in our league, I should have known something was going to happen.  B went out for his shift and was going after the puck when he was struck by a nasty elbow to his head and flew into the boards. He laid on the ice for what felt like hours, but was only about 2-3 minutes. Braden has taken many hits and many falls - some for dramatic purposes for, what I can only assume was to try to win a Hockey Oscar. But this time was definitely different. Just the way he laid there wasn't right. While the other player was being ejected from the game, Brady opened the door to the ice and went to check on our son, along with our friend, and nurse extraordinaire, Stephanie.

After going through, and passing, a very thorough series of tests he was encouraged to take it easy, but said he felt okay. Just scared that something had happened. He wanted to get back on the bench and be with his teammates. There were only about 5 minutes left in the third period. My GUT told me to take him to the locker room and get him home to rest. My GUT told me to pick him up and carry him out - smelly hockey equipment and all. The fear of embarrassing him in front of his friends and my fear that I was potentially making more out of it than it really was (this is also known as DENIAL ... it really isn't just a river in Egypt! Who knew?), and what would all the hockey parents think, kept me from doing just that. Furthermore, this denial also allowed me and his dad to believe that it was okay for him to sit on the bench and play a shift if he felt like it. Really? This is one of my biggest pet peeves of OTHER people - Who are the parents here? Anyone want to take a guess at what happened next? Well, of course I went to the bathroom, that's a given ... cuz that's what I do. But while I was gone, he got hit again. Not as bad, but still scary for him. This time he came off the bench for the rest of the game. However, still not showing any signs of anything serious, except for the usual tiredness after a hard-fought hockey game.

The team wanted to go eat dinner together. My GUT told me to politely decline and go home to rest. After all, it had been a long evening for all of us. He said he felt fine and really wanted to be with his friends. We went to dinner. Then on Sunday he said he felt fine and seemed fine and wanted to play with friends and go to batting practice. My GUT was getting quieter, but still a little nagging that he should just stay in and rest.

Today I got a call from the school. My GUT SCREAMED AT ME - "I was right. You were wrong!"  His vision was blurred, he was blinking uncontrollably when trying to read and his headache had returned. When will I learn to listen to my GUT??!! He has a mild concussion. Bed rest, lots of carbohydrates and protein (that sounds like PIZZA, right?), sleeping and NO VIDEO GAMES or phones. (i.e. he's bored out of his gourd). He's out of school until at least Wednesday.

This weekend I learned a few things about myself concerning my most prized possession-my son:

1) Listen to my GUT.
2) Why the HELL do I care what anyone else thinks about how I raise
     my kid (this is a work in progress - leftover from 
     when he was born!).
3) Be strong when my kid has appeared to be injured but says he
     wants to keep playing and, when in doubt, refer to #1.
4) As hard as you may try, you can never be prepared enough for
     parenthood. Never.
5) Do not waiver from #1.

If he doesn't have any more headaches he may be able to play hockey this weekend. I'm not sure how I feel about that yet. But I guarantee that his dad and I will listen to our GUTS this time.

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