The Concussion

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A 6 year-old boy at our swim club decided to jump on Sophie’s head while she was bobbing in the deep end with her friends. This turned what had been a pleasant humid Thursday evening into an impromptu meeting at the lifeguard table, complete with filling out forms, a minor interrogation on symptoms, and following that, instructions on checking whether or not her headache and nausea meant a concussion.

They did.

We had sent Sophie to camp on Friday, but by Saturday, her symptoms had progressed to the point where her headache prevented her from sleeping, eating, or doing much of anything. She needed sunglasses even to sit in the house; she’s sensitive to bright light anyway, so the added trauma only made the situation worse. She became somewhat disoriented as well. After a 3 hour afternoon nap (made necessary by her inability to sleep the night before), she woke up totally unaware of date and time. “Why are we having sausage and vegetables for breakfast?” she asked. It was 7:30pm.

But I had seen this dazed state before. When this form of discombobulation – I think this is a real word despite what spell-checker is me – used to happen to my father, it was called dementia. This is a side effect of the C Diff infection he used to have. In a child, though, it’s assumed that the symptom will pass. In the elderly, especially in hospitals, it’s expected that it’s just the permanent state of things.

This Sandwich Generation connection occurred to me when I took Sophie to the doctor that Tuesday afternoon for a follow-up. Among other tests, the pediatrician recited three words to her: green, door, and something that I’ve since forgotten. Anyway, the test reminded me of my father’s post-hospital stay during rehab in the skilled nursing area at Stonebridge at Montgomery.   He performed many exercises, among them cognitive testing and therapy to test whether or not the infection had wreaked lasting damage, and to mark his progress.  He too had to recall series of words after a few minutes of other questions.

Of course, he now curates classical music performances by searching for performances on YouTube, transferring them to a playlist on Apple TV, and then using a complex projector/speaker/microphone setup that would make Rube Goldberg proud. So, I would guess he’s fine.

Just two weeks later, Sophie’s made a nearly total physical recovery. Her doctor suggested that at some point we might want to assess any psychological impact from suddenly being forced under the water. My father has developed immunity to most psychological tolls at this point in his life. But we’ll keep the jumping 6 year-olds away from him just in case.

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