About a month ago, we had to take Tyler to the emergency room for a CT scan after three days of concussion symptoms. Here's how everything unfolded:
He played a game on a Sunday morning. He and another child collided head to head (accidentally), they both fell and then the back of Tyler's head hit the ice. He has taken harder hits than that one before. He's gone into the boards so hard I had to stop myself from running onto the ice. He has slipped, fallen and hit his head worse than that before. So when he got right back and up and continued to play, all of us, Tyler included, thought he was fine.
Later that afternoon, he was supposed to visit a friend. I told him to clean his room and then we'd go. After about half and hour, I wondered why it was taking him so long and went to see if he was playing rather than cleaning. He was asleep in bed. Our son hasn't taken a nap since he was four. That was clue number one something wasn't right.
Even later that afternoon, he complained of a headache. When we told him he should stay home rather than go to his friend's house, he started crying because his toothbrush was still at their house from a previous sleepover and now he wouldn't be able to get it back. Falling asleep, headaches and mood swings are all symptoms of a concussion.
We called the pediatrician's office for advice. For the rest of the evening, we kept a close eye on him and we woke him up twice during the night to ask him three questions each time (which he answered). The next day, Monday, his teacher sent him home from school because she could tell he wasn't feeling well. He said he'd had double vision while trying to take a test.
Tyler's headaches came on and off all that day. He would be fine one minute and in a lot of pain the next so we went to the doctor that afternoon. He was officially diagnosed with a mild concussion. Tuesday, his headaches were still coming and going, sometimes without warning.
Wednesday morning Tyler woke me before the alarm went off for school. He was crying and holding his head. "It hurts, it hurts so bad." That's when I decided to take him to the ER. The doctor looked him over and was confident his symptoms were still mild. She told us she, as a parent herself, would not do the CT scan on her own kids if they were presenting as well as Tyler, but Phil and I decided we needed to know for sure that he was OK.
Both us hadn't slept well since Sunday night, worrying there might be more wrong than we knew. Fortunately, the CT scan was normal. It was worth the possible risks from the X-Ray for our peace of mind. This doctor mirrored our pediatrician and said no physical activity (practice, games, PE class, recess) for two weeks. When she said that, Tyler started to cry.
I was very happy this doctor was able to talk to Tyler about what a concussion is and convey how serious they can be without scaring him. We sent him to school the next day (Thursday) with a doctor's note and instructions for him to go to the nurse immediately if he started getting blurry vision again.
We spent the rest of the week watching him for symptoms and noticed several odd things. He dropped the carton of milk twice in one morning. He tripped and stumbled walking back from the pool. We were talking about weekend plans and then a few moments later he asked, "So, what are we going to do tomorrow?" Each time something like that happened, it re-affirmed that keeping him out of his activities was the right choice, no matter that he told us he felt just fine.
Concussions affect each person differently. After the headaches went away, Tyler begged us to let him start playing again and we had to say no repeatedly. We yelled at him when we caught him riding his scooter, which he was not supposed to be doing anyway, but certainly not WITHOUT A HELMET! Tyler told us he felt like he was being punished. We told him his health and safety were considerably more important than his feelings.
During dinner the following Tuesday night (nine days after he got the concussion), Tyler was telling us about his day at school. "We were playing dodgeball at PE and I got hit in the head with the ball."
Tyler looked like a deer in headlights. He realized too late that he should have kept that story to himself.
This post is getting really long so I'll stop here and break it into two parts. I'll tell you about the conversation I had with the vice principal and the reaction Tyler got from some of his classmates.