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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Concussion

It was one of those weekends that makes me realize anew, This parenting stuff is Not for the Faint of Heart!

On Friday, BJ face-planted on wet asphalt while running at full-tilt, and the resulting bonk to the head was serious enough that the school called home and insisted a parent come in and check him out. I was at gym class with BB, so S got to go in and assess the situation. There was a serious goose-egg, but otherwise BJ seemed OK, so S gave it the OK for him to stay in school for the day. We were given the expected list of symptoms to watch out for, and we hoped that would be the end of it.

Alas, the "fun" was only beginning. At 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, BJ woke up vomiting. Uh-oh. After cleaning him up, I called the Kaiser nurse line. (I heart the Kaiser nurse line. Have I mentioned that before? Yes. I have good cause.) We had a lengthy telephone consultation and the nurse informed me that a vomit is entirely consistent with the kind of head injury he'd had and not necessarily something to worry about. She gave me a big list of things to look for (bruising behind the ears, black eyes, fluid from the ears, confusion, blurry vision, headache, repeated vomiting) and none of them seemed to apply, so we decided to keep watching him here at home.

Not surprisingly, he didn't want to eat anything. Then, about 9:30 a.m. he threw up again. Yup -- to the ER it was. By now, we are rather familiar with the Kaiser ER, and I have to say that once again they were amazingly efficient and wonderfully compassionate. I know that not everybody has the same experience with Kaiser, but I am consistently impressed. They had us in and out of the ER in just under 2 hours, including a lengthy observation time.

The doctor we saw gave BJ a thorough check up, looking for the same sorts of things the nurse had asked me about earlier that morning. He said that BJ had a concussion but it seemed minor and he didn't think a CT scan or Xray was warranted, though they were willing to do one if I wanted. There was a small risk of slow bleeding or fracture, but there's also a known risk of radiation exposure, and it was up to me what to do. When I said I thought it sounded like we should wait and watch, the doctor informed me, "If it were my son -- and I have kids of my own -- that's what I would do." So that made me feel much better.

Motherhood carries such an enormous weight of responsibility. You brought them into this world, and you're responsible for keeping them alive. And that weight is there, pressing on you from breath to breath, every single day that you're a parent, especially when they're young. Moments like Saturday morning in the ER just make it explicit. Not for the faint of heart, like I said.

The doctor was more concerned with the possiblity of dehydration at that point, since BJ hadn't been able to keep anything down since 5:30 a.m., so he asked BJ to drink some fluids and then kept us there for observation to make sure he could keep it down. No vomiting, which was an enormous relief. We were released with the directions to watch the situation closely, but we were hopeful that was the end of it.

After a fairly good afternoon in which he ate a decent lunch (chicken soup and saltines) and dinner (spaghetti noodles without sauce), he fell asleep early. Only to wake at 8:30 p.m. by vomiting all over himself and his bed. Poor boo.

I cleaned up the kid in the shower and S cleaned up the bed. (We're such a good team.) Then, you guessed it -- back on the phone with the Kaiser nurse. These folks should be on our speed dial. This time, the nurse brought in a doctor on call for consultation. We were told that we should come to the ER if he vomited two more times. We were also instructed to wake him up at 10 pm and 2 am and make sure he could be coherent. We scheduled a morning phone appointment with a pediatrician on call and prayed that things would not worsen.

At this point, I was about ready to crawl in bed with BB or sleep in the kids' room on a pallet on the floor. Figuring that would be brutal on my back, instead I dug the baby monitor out of storage and tried to sleep while listening to every rustle and breath of the kids in their beds. Thankfully, he didn't vomit any more, and we were able to wake him up without too much trouble when we were supposed to, but I didn't get much sleep at all. Neither did S.

BJ woke up at 5 a.m. and at that point I was just relieved to get out of bed, even though I was exhausted. And then, there was the little matter of the craft show I had scheduled for today....

S and I had talked about it the night before and agreed that if BJ remained in a "watch and wait" situation, I should go to the show. S would deal with the phone appointment and call me if needed. Of course if things changed or especially if he ended up back at the ER, I'd cancel. I was (and am) so grateful for his support. Even while I felt horribly guilty.

Setup started at 7 a.m. and it was a wretched mama who left for her show (though relieved, of course, that BJ wasn't worse). If it had just been me and my table, I probably would have cancelled, but it was a unique situation where the organizer had donated a table for the SF Etsy team to use to promote the team, and as team leader I had asked him to place the table right next to mine and I would staff both tables, selling my stuff and talking about the team. So if I stayed home, it would affect more than just me. Late on Saturday night, I'd emailed one of my favorite SF Etsy people, H, and asked her if she could fill in for me if necessary, and she was very kind in saying she would. But I didn't want to do that unless it was necessary. S was very sweet, telling me, "Look. You have a life. It's OK to have a life." Which is true, but I still felt terrible about leaving.

I called S as the show was starting and he reassured me that nothing had changed and the phone appointment with the doctor had gone fine. But all day I was anxious.

The show was OK -- even though it was an indoor show, the pouring rain kept a lot of shoppers away -- and everybody survived just fine while I was gone. Which should make me feel better, and it does, a little. But at this point, I mostly feel exhausted. Exhausted and really feeling badly for my little boy. How else is a mom supposed to feel when the hospital discharge sheet for her son states, "For a few weeks, your child may have low energy, dizziness, trouble sleeping, a headache, ringing in the ears, or nausea. Your child may also feel anxious, irritable, or depressed. He may have problems with memory and concentration. These symptoms are common after a concussion and should slowly improve over time, sometimes taking weeks or even months.”

Weeks or even months. Let's hope not.

4 comments:

DivineOrchid said...

Wow, Jen, that is some heavy stuff. And to still go to the craft show, GO WOMAN, GO! =-) May your son be healthy and happy!

cath c said...

i'm sorry you had to go through that, but i am also glad you shared it as we've all been there in one way or another. parenting can be such a tenuous rollercoaster at times.

I'm glad to hear bj is doing pretty well, too. it's natural to worry, but i bet he'll bounce back faster than the doctors warnings and your fears.

Angela said...

Oh dear, sweet BJ. We are sending love and prayers for his wellness. You are a good Mama. Read that again...you are a good Mama. Scary situation, but you and S held it all together, and I know BJ felt your love and care. Let me know if you need anything.

Jen (Mama's Magic Studio) said...

Y'all are very sweet. He went to school today and had a good day, so I think that's a good sign. So long as he doesn't hit his head again, I am hoping we'll be OK!

Your words of support and kindness mean so much to me -- thank you.