Thursday, March 21, 2013

Heads Up!

Just when this pregnancy was starting to feel like I still have a-ways to go, I looked at my calendar and whatdya know- I'll be in my 3rd trimester by next week! That, and this wonderful change in weather has given me the positive boost that I needed right now. Isn't it such a funny thing about pregnancy ~ it seems to be soooooo long when really it's less than a year. That's not very long considering the human being you get for a lifetime from it. That fact stuns me every time I meet one of our children for the first time as my head suddenly is filled with thoughts such as~ "Here you are!" "You are ours!" and "It was ALL so worth it!"

Earlier this week (phrase I use when my days all begin to blend together), I caught a headline in the Wall Street Journal about athletes and concussions. This topic is of interest to me ever since last summer when I personally met the ER doc for a local high school. What? You didn't know high school's have an assigned ER dr? Me either. I was even a cheerleader all throughout high school which meant I often rode on our team's bus and was friends with many of the athletes. Never in all my years do I remember meeting any doctors, hearing about concussions, or long term brain damage as possible health concerns for us young kids (click here for that WSJ article). I remember attending safety clinics since we often performed cheer stunts but in looking back, rules were still pretty lax about the necessary precautions to follow. Regardless, I was dedicated to cheering through and through and even though I still found being a flier pretty scary at times, I always just locked my muscles (this makes you lighter), smiled, and did it. Thankfully, none of my fellow cheerleaders or I were ever seriously injured. I still to this day consider my years as a cheerleader to be some of the best moments of my life.

So, what happens when that daring and determined cheerleader grows up and has children? Naturally, I want to be their cheerleaders while they participate in whatever makes them happy. EXCEPT for the sports found on this list....


This fear becomes even more real when your almost 3-yr old gets a son's happened radomly here at home one day in our living room. I remember being in the kitchen and out of the corner of my eye, looked over as he slipped off a toy drum (I have no idea why, but he was standing on it with a blanket) and landed smack on the back of his head directly onto our hardwood floors. This is how I got to meet the local ER dr. It was through that event that I learned first-hand about the worry, shock, and did I mention WORRY? involved with children getting seriously hurt. Thankfully, Benjamin turned out to be just fine and we came away with this crucial piece of knowledge told to us by the ER dr, our pediatrician, and the Academy of Pediatrics (that's a lot of experience if you ask me!):

When a child throws up immediately after taking a fall to the head, that's a good sign (should still stop activity and wait at least 24 hrs. for any symptoms to subside, as well as get checked out by a dr.), BUT if a child throws up after a longer period of time after the fall: GET THEM TO THE ER. 

When Benjamin fell he screamed. I knew he was shocked and scared but I didn't think much of it because kids fall all the time right? There was no blood and the toy drum that he fell off from was only about 5" tall. I had him sit down on the couch, turned on a cartoon, and went for an ice pack. When I returned I didn't feel any bumps anywhere on his head (another sign of a possible concussion)....but Benjamin just wasn't acting himself. I called Bart and he was home in about 30 min. Meanwhile I had Grant to take care of so I had to just let Benjamin be a for a bit. He was still pretty insistent on me staying close by his side and seemed a bit restless.....he normally loved this cartoon so I knew something was wrong. Once Bart got home Benjamin seemed almost withdrawn which for those of you who know Benjamin, is NOT like him at all. Then when Bart tried to lift him off the couch he lunged for me and threw up, which was about 45 min after he fell.

I looked up at Bart and said, "Call the dr now." The pediatricians office was very clear about their protocol. No "We'll get you in with the next available dr," or their ever-so-friendly referral to InstaCare, just, he needs to get into the ER asap.

So off we went while I continued to interrogate him with any/all questions I could come up with about Toy Story, Batman, and other stuff I knew he knows (thanks to Bart for that tip!). We were scared- no one ever wants to go to the ER, especially for their child but he was able to talk quite clearly which made Bart and I feel SOOOO much more hopeful. All in all, he tested out just fine but was diagnosed with having experienced a mild concussion. I talked with that ER dr as long as I could about how to keep our children MORE safe and he looked me right in the eyes and told me that I'm doing it. He attested that as a father of 5 kids, we have to let kids be kids. Then he gave us some examples of teenage football player injuries that he's used to seeing, and I'm pretty sure Bart and I decided then and there that our boys will NOT be playing any football (not my fave sport anyway ;)).

Right now both our sons enjoy playing sports of all kinds. Ever since we first introduced them to balls, they naturally caught on to throwing, catching, and kicking pretty quickly and like most kids, love anything involving running or jumping. Realizing this all-around-athleticism in them reminds me of how I naturally fell into cheerleading. I don't know what I would've done if my parents would've forbidden me to stunt, and that's how I know that we can't forbid any of our children to take up whatever sport their drawn to. BUT- we do think we should equip ourselves with as much knowledge as possible surrounding the safety of the sport, as well as start now by encouraging the less riskier sports....hello, swimming! ;)

So, all in all we got a HUGE helping of parenting courage that day. It was a lot for all of us to experience but hopefully this heads up of what to do is helpful if your child ever falls or has a blow to the head. It really did make me stronger and calmer for the next time a crisis of my motto's has always been: "Ready for any emergency!" Click here too for another article on ways to help prevent children getting injured in sports.

1 comment:

  1. I feel the same way as you: I'm not going to forbid certain sports but I won't be sad if my kids don't play them! This is a big topic in the speech therapy world right now, too. I'm sure by the time our kids are playing sports there will new information, but right now I am definitely planning on cognitive testing prior to playing any sports. It's called ImPACT and many hospitals in SLC are currently completing this testing. By having a baseline, you can retest your child in the event of a possible concussion and know when they are really ready to get back to playing. A huge danger is when kids say they are fine and coaches send them back in to the game and they get another (and another, and another) concussion before they have returned to baseline cognitive function. That's when you run the risk of permanent damage. Returning to baseline can take a few days or even a few months depending on the child and severity of the concussion. The bottom line is they don't play until they are back to normal.
    (PS-this is the third time I tried to write this comment. I had helpful little fingers that kept closing the window. Sorry if this shows up a few times!) :)