"If it were my son," said a nurse who looked hardly older than the tall lanky 17 year old she was referring to, "I'd wake him up about four hours after he goes to sleep.... you know, make sure he is acting all right."
"Acting all right for being woken up in the middle of the night, you mean?" I asked, and she laughed.
"Well, yeah, he will be sleepy, of course. "
So she brought in a wheelchair for Sean -- it was a measure of how he felt that he didn't protest at all about the wheelchair, unlike last summer when he didn't see why he couldn't walk out of the hospital after an outpatient endoscopy.
Altogether, Friday was a rough night for Sean's football team in the rivalry game against the team from the other side of the mountain. It wasn't just Sean with a concussion, taped to a board and transported 50 miles to the nearest hospital by ambulance. One of his buddies and teammates got a fractured ankle and another one ended up in the hospital for two nights with a bruised kidney. That ends the season for all three of them.
We got home at almost 2 am Saturday morning. Aidan threw up on the way home, giving the trip that fuzzy (and slimy) nightmarish feeling that you'll be driving through the darkness next to your (bravely but grimly) miserable and messy kid for the rest of eternity. Then Kevin woke up throwing up the next day. All in all, not the happiest times for the clan.
Sean still has a massive headache and is prohibited from playing or working out until at least a week after he is symptom-free. If you want to know more about concussions, check out my friend Chari's post with lots of links. The newly recognized danger is of secondary concussions. A couple of weeks ago, a kid in a nearby school collapsed and was brought into the hospital for emergency brain surgery. He is the best friend of an old teammate of Sean's. He had gotten a blow to the head the week before but had apparently not told his parents or coaches that he was having headaches. He kept practicing and played the next game and that was where he got hurt again.
After the tackle where Sean got the head blow, he went back into the game and kept playing till half-time. We saw the tackle of course, but since he didn't sit out any plays we didn't know he had gotten his bell rung, as they say. During halftime, from what we heard later from him, he was zoning out and one of his coaches noticed and asked if he was OK. What we saw from the stands after half time was Sean coming out looking shaky with one of the coaches talking to him. Then the medic came over and talked to him, then another coach, and then suddenly Sean was lying down on the dirt track with the ambulance (usually there on standby) cruising up next to him. Then of course I went down and Kevin came down right after.
They said, "We're just playing it safe. He's complaining of neck pain, so we'll take him to the hospital for a scan."
Another one said, "That was how football ended for me. Taken out on a stretcher during a highschool game. That was it!"
Another game medic said "We're just playing it safe with his neck. But he's probably got a concussion."
At the ER, Sean said, "It's not my neck. It's my head." Eventually the X-ray and the doctor concurred and we were discharged with warnings about staying out of play until symptoms were good and gone.
Sean's not a big risk-taker, and he didn't go back into the game to be macho. But because he was a bit disoriented from the blow, he probably wasn't using the best judgment about how he was feeling. Also, he knew they needed him to win. That probably didn't help his judgment of the situation either.
I am very grateful he didn't get a second blow while still in the game. That gratitude will easily take me through Thanksgiving even if for some reason I could not think of another thing to be grateful about.