Friday, January 24, 2014

40-year olds don't bounce...

I have full memory of the fall. And I did not lose consciousness. I took great comfort from those two facts while trying to determine how severe my concussion was, and during the debate with myself as to whether or not I should go to the doctor.

It was my last time around the rink. I had told Lilian that we needed to be done skating by 8:05 so we would have time to return our skates, and make it to the gym to pick up Brandon and Porter by 8:15. I was feeling fairly confident after an hour of skating. And though the ice at the South Davis Rec Center was much more smooth and well cared for than the small outdoor rink at Station Park and therefore more slippery, I felt good about my skating abilities. So it was with surprise that suddenly I found myself flailing. I'm sure I looked a comical sight as I tried frantically to right myself and hold onto my balance...arms windmilling, feet backpedaling. It was with resignation that I told myself, "You're going down" and started planning for a hard landing on my backside. If only it was my backside that got the brunt of it...
I wish I could watch video of my fall. It would help me understand better my injuries. Nevertheless, one thing became obviously clear...I hit the back of my head extremely hard. Scant seconds passed between me hitting the ice and sitting back up again. But when I did, I realized I would've been better staying down. My world was spinning, my head was throbbing and stinging simultaneously, and waves of nausea were rolling over me. I bent over and put my hands on the ice and lowered my head down to combat the dizziness. I lifted my hand to the back of my head where the stinging pain was taking place and found an enormous lump that filled the whole palm of my hand. The fact that it hadn't split and left me bleeding everywhere was something that I'm thankful for.

Immediately I had people circling me, kneeling down beside me, asking if I needed help. For some reason my pride kicked in and I was embarrassed but at least had enough sense to realize I was in no shape to be standing quite yet. A rink employee came over and checked my eyes, asked if I wanted to fill out an accident report. No, I told him. I would be fine. I just needed to find my daughter. I was equal parts annoyed and secretly relieved that she had continued skating after my fall. It gave me more time down on the floor scanning the rink for her and calling her over before having to attempt standing. But the time to stand quickly came and I was a little humiliated when two guys took my arms, lifted me to my feet and started escorting me off the ice. The humiliation quickly evaporated into a sense of thanks when I realized that I wouldn't have been able to do it on my own, my balance precarious as it was due to the dizziness and my traumatized and trembling body. They led me to the benches near the skate rental desk where I assured them that I was fine (ha!) and they went their separate ways. At this point Lilian was chewing off my ear with her protests. She wanted a few more rounds of the rink. And it was with barely controlled emotion that I explained that "Mommy was hurt really bad and we needed to leave." I guided her hand to the lump on my head and that seemed to kick in her compassionate side. She stopped complaining and let me quickly, but with shaking fingers, untie her laces, return her skates and put on her real shoes. She took my hand and willingly guided me through the parking lot to our truck.

I called Bryan immediately. And at the sound of his voice, any sort of control I had on my emotions fled and I cried and cried as I explained the situation to him and asked about concussion symptoms. Foremost in his mind was ascertaining if I was safe to be driving. I assured him that my dizziness had abated and that I seemed to be okay in that regard. All I wanted to do was to get home and get some ice on my head...detouring to the gym to pick up Brandon and Porter was not ideal, certainly. But what else could we do? It was my day to drive carpool and I was only a few blocks away. Bryan told me to get some ice at the gym.

But the gym was hopping. A birthday celebration was going on for one of the older boys so the entire team was milling around eating pizza and donuts. I tried to discreetly ask Coach Adam what he knew about way of then enlisting his aid in tracking down some ice. But I was then horrified to find myself with overactive tear ducts once again...which then gained the attention of Coach Gabe and some of the boys and other parents. So I stood up, made some comment about hitting my head..."it doesn't even hurt that bad so I don't know why I'm crying...I must just still be in shock or something" and walked over to get some water out of the drinking fountain, deciding not to bother with the ice. Brandon found me there. "Mom," he whispered. "Are you okay?" Bless my considerate little guy who was not embarrassed about his mom losing it in front of his team but instead was concerned that something must be seriously wrong. I quickly told him about my fall and let him feel the back of my head. I told him that I was going to go out to the truck and to please grab his pizza and donut, find Porter and Lilian (who by this time was running around the gym) and come out quickly because I really, really needed to get home.

Brandon did as I asked and we got Porter and then ourselves home as quickly as we could. Bryan had an icepack ready and waiting for me when I walked in the door. He examined my head and then sat me down with the icepack and let me explain in more detail of what happened and how I was feeling....all through my never ending, frustrated tears. But Bryan was already up later than he should've been, specifically waiting to check on me. He had to be awake by 4:30 AM the next morning. So, settled on the couch with a blanket and icepack, ibuprofen starting to kick in for the pain, I sent him to bed and proceeded to wait up for Rebekah who said she would come home at 10:00 rather than her normal 11:30-ish curfew.
I was so thankful to drop into bed...but then had a truly awful night's sleep. I ached all over. My head hurt. I had a hard time finding a comfortable position because even the soft pillow hurt the back of my head. The dizziness and nausea came back full force. And when Bryan got up at 4:30 to get ready to work his 5:00-11:00 AM shift at the temple, I was awake. I asked him to please put my name on the temple prayer roll and he kissed the top of my head as he left.

The next day I had floods of messages come in through Facebook and text. Friends checking in on me, asking if there was anything I needed....and begging me to go to the doctor. There was nothing a doctor could do for a concussion, other than to order a CT scan or an MRI to rule out a subdural hematoma. From all my reading, a hematoma is rare....but if you do have one, it will likely kill you if a doctor hasn't found it first. But I didn't want to go. And by mid-morning my dizziness and nausea had mostly gone away. I hadn't lost consciousness or any memory during the initial fall. I felt like my concussion was likely minor. And so to the frustration of my friends who thought I was taking an unnecessary risk, I decided against a doctor visit.

For the next few days I ached and hurt. My neck and jaw were very sore, likely whiplash. My head pounded and though the lump had gone down, it still was painfully sore at the site. I found bruises on my derriere and the palm of my hand. I stayed on a cocktail of tylenol and ibuprofen, neither one of them being strong enough on their own. I found myself forgetting words while conversing with people. But wasn't sure if that was due to the concussion or just a brain funk. (One nice thing about a concussion...any senior moments, blonde moments or just plain stupidity you can blame on the conk on the head.) But each day got a little better. Today marks a week from my fall. My neck is a little tight when I turn it side to side but it doesn't hurt, neither does my jaw. The dizziness and nausea never did come back after that first night. I haven't had to rely on painkillers for the past couple of days. My head is still quite sore to the touch and there is still a little bump. Rebekah took a closer look yesterday afternoon and claims that there is scabbing there so maybe I did break open the skin when I fell...just not enough to bleed. Because it is so sore up there, I still have to be careful when trying to find a comfortable position while sleeping. I'm more tired and I've also put myself on a hiatus from my yoga classes. But I do seem to be on the mend. I haven't dropped dead from a hematoma yet so that's always a good sign. haha.

I think I'm in for a healthy dose of PTSD when faced with iceskating in the future. Just walking down my icy north-facing driveway makes me super nervous. But I'm lucky. It could've been a lot worse. And as a friend mentioned when she saw the picture of Lilian and me....if I had to fall, at least I looked good while doing it. So I take comfort in that...  ;)

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