After I had my first experience with concussions.
My son George is wrestling this year. He loves it and he's pretty good at it for it being the second year ever that he's wrestled. The first year being many moons ago. This year he again expressed some real interest and so we agreed to let him give it a go.
Yesterday night I went to pick him up from wrestling practice. As I watched him walk toward the vehicle I could tell something was wrong. He got in the car and I asked what was up, he put his head back on the seat, started crying and said "I think I have a concussion." Not good. He had been on the receiving end of a pretty hard take down landing on the left side of his head. And in his words "Everything slowed down. I couldn't see and I couldn't hear." but when the kid he was wrestling asked if he was okay he just gave him the thumbs up sign and continued on. Unfortunately it had happened about 30 minutes BEFORE practice ended. He also did not informed any of the coaches about it.
I asked him how bad it hurt and was he nauseated at all. It hurt pretty bad and he wasn't nauseated at all. As we headed home I told him I would give him some Tylenol when we got home and we would see if that would help. Between the time we left the high school parking lot and the time we rounded the corner of our street (about 3 minutes) he informed me that he was having a difficult time staying awake. That's when I knew how serious it was and I needed to get him to the ER.
We made a fast stop at home where I ran in to inform the other kids what was happening and to have McKenna get a hold of Tyran who was teaching his yoga class. When I first gave her instructions I just wanted to have her call and let him know that I was on my way to the hospital with George. Thinking that this was something I could handle on my own. Then came the drive.
The hospital is maybe 10 minutes away from our house if you drive the speed limit, which we did, mostly because we were behind another car that was going just below the speed limit. It's pretty much a straight shot from our house to get there and things went from bad to worse on that long, straight stretch of road.
I was talking to George trying to keep him conscious, telling him he couldn't go to sleep. He was in serious pain, and as I asked him questions I began to realize how serious things were. He could remember his first period class but that was it. He couldn't remember anything else from the rest of the day. When I asked him about his second period class he said "We did something with little kids" but that was all he could remember. I remembered that he had come home with a note about a preschool day in his CTE class so I knew what he was talking about, but he couldn't remember the name of the class. He remembered he had pizza for lunch and that was about it.
He was scared and hurting and starting to hyperventilate, which in turn was causing his hands to go numb. That was causing him to freak out even more, making him breathe even faster thus causing further hyperventilation and more hand numbing. It wasn't pretty. (I wasn't aware of this at the time. It wasn't until the ER doc explained it to us that I realized what was happening.)
It was about this time that McKenna called me telling me she couldn't find the number to reach Tyran so I walked her through finding the number on the computer. When she found it I told her to tell Ty that if there was anyway that for him to get out of teaching his class and get to the hospital to please do so. At this point I was REALLY starting to worry and I was doing my darndest to keep it together and to try and calm George down the best I knew how.
As I was talking to him I tried to reassure him by saying "It's okay." George responded with "It's not okay!" and I said "You're right. It's not okay but I'm getting you to the hospital as fast as I can." Which seemed like a VERY long time when you are going behind someone who was going the speed limit.
We made it to the hospital and they sat us right down so they could take our information so as to get us taken back as soon as possible. As we were waiting for the nurse to take us to a room George told me that he remember that he had Art earlier that day and that he had painted. He also said "I remember my address" (which I hadn't thought to ask him) but he didn't have it quite right so I asked if he remembered our phone number. He was a few digits off on that as well and you could tell that he really had to think about what it was.
Ty showed up just as the nurse was taking us back and she had George sit in a wheelchair because he was having a difficult time staying awake. In the ER room with George in a bed hooked up to the monitors she started asking questions. She asked what his name was he told her George but didn't say his last name so she asked him what his last name was and he had to think about it. This whole time he is just hurting and Ty and are talking to him trying to keep him from going to sleep.
When the nurse leaves she gives me the call button and tells me to push it if there are any dramatic changes with him. Ty sits on the bed to keep him talking and I'm standing off to the side. Each time Ty tells George he needs to look at him or he needs to stay away George answers with "Yes, coach Levine." (His wrestling coach. After he says that three or four times I get his attention point to Ty and say "Who is this?" George then says "That's coach Levine" then I ask "Who am I?" and he says "Coach Dodson" (another wrestling coach). Ty and I just kind of look at each other. About a minute later George says "Wait. You're not coach Levine and your not coach Dodson. You're my dad and my mom." then he starts to cry and say "I'm sorry." He felt bad that he hadn't known it was us. We tried to reassure him that it was okay.
The doctor came in and had him do some simple neurological test and then told us that every thing looked fine that way but that he was hyperventilating and that was causing the numbness in his hands. He said that the nurse was going to give him some Tylenol for the headache and some Xanax for the anxiety and they were going to put a mask on him with a bag to help him breathe better. He also said that they would be coming to get him for a CT scan of his head to make sure that everything looked okay on the inside.
The nurse was quick with the Tylenol and the Xanax, thankfully. While we were waiting for the CT tech to come and take him Ty was sitting on the bed again and I was standing off to the side. I heard George say something to Tyran but I couldn't make out what it was, then he caught my eye and gave me a strange look. I moved closer to ask what had been said when I heard my son ask a question that no parent ever wants to hear. He looked at his dad with pleading, tear filled eyes and said "Am I going to die?"
It was heart stopping. Ty calmly informed him that, no he was not going to die as I stood, speechless and stroked his face and his head. He reassured him that everything was going to be just fine, that George wasn't going anywhere. A few minutes later the CT tech showed up and we followed her to the room just around the corner, as they performed the scan we waited out in the hallway. It was there that I learned what George had said to Tyran right before he asked the question. He looked at him and said "You look like Jesus." That was the part I hadn't heard.
"You look like Jesus. Am I going to die?"
And do you want to know something? When he asked that question, even though it was hard to hear and even more difficult to contemplate, I felt peace. Peace that if something were to happen everything was (and would be) as it should be. I felt even more peace as Ty was telling me the part that I hadn't heard.
It was a split second of knowledge. A brief moment of peace. One for which I will forever be grateful.
As the nurse wheeled George out of the CT room and back into the ER you could tell that he was calming down. That the meds that they gave him were starting to kick in. Which was good. He still had a little bit of numbness in his hands so the nurse put the mask back on for him to breath through. That's when things slowed down enough for me update my FB status to ask for prayers, for Ty to call the grand parents and for me to snap this picture with my phone.
We were sent home not long after. All in all that was probably one of the shorter visits to the ER that I've experienced. Upon getting home George ate a little bit more and then as we were sitting at the kitchen table he says "I feel weird. I feel like I've lost a part of me." That was disconcerting so I asked a couple of questions and he said " I don't feel good and I don't feel bad. I just feel like I'm here." That's when I made the connection that that feeling must be coming from the Xanax. I explained this to George and had him go and shower.
He slept on the couch downstairs so we could go out and wake him up at midnight. The doctor told us that it would be okay for him to go to school today but it's the end of the semester so I figured it would be better for him to stay home. He may stay home again tomorrow depending on how he is feeling.
Once he is "symptom free" we will take him over to UVRMC to get a baseline CT procedure done for future reference. They said that it could be 4 days or up to 4 weeks depending on how George feels. I'm so grateful that it wasn't more serious. George is doing much better today and was able to remember all of what happened yesterday.
Thanks to all my friends and family who said a prayer for us last night. It's a scary thing see your child like that, to worry about the possibility of losing them.
And to my friends who are forced to ask the question "Is my child going to die?" on a regular basis? You know who you are...those friends whose children have T1 diabetes, cancer or any other life threatening issues. My heart goes out to you. And my prayers are with you. You are amazing.