Saturday, April 14, 2012

My Inspiration and Poem

My son recently sustained a concussion while playing a college football intra-squad scrimmage game. It inspired my poem entry into this year’s Putting our Heads Together Poetry Contest 2012. Are you going to put in an entry this year? You have until MAY 4TH!

Nobody noticed my son had hurt his head and he was only looked at after the trainer overheard him comment to a teammate “How did I get here” once he walked to the sideline on his own.

The trainer asked, “Are you f’n with me LittlePuppet?” After talking with him slightly, he could tell that he wasn’t. My son couldn’t even follow simple instructions so the trainer became his babysitter – as he should. LittlePuppet had no idea what he was doing, where he was, how he got to football that morning and couldn’t even remember most of the day before.

It may sound funny, but I have a new found respect for the brain. My son is a very bright boy, who was actually inducted into one of the national college honor societies this week. Kind of ironic. He had always said that if he ever hurt his head he would take himself out of play right away. He knows how important his head is; that his life is not defined by football.

He can’t believe that he stayed in for ten plays after he hurt his brain. He said he had to be out of his brain because it was not a conscious decision. When the coaches looked at the films afterward, that’s when they could see everything that happened. Luckily, he did not hit his head a second time during these ten plays or I can’t imagine what he would be like now.

The other weird part is that while his brain was still funky, he did not feel his other pains. He had prior knee, ankle and a fresh groin injury that he did not feel at all until his brain started coming back around. At first they came back as dull pains, but as his brain started recuperating, he started feeling these other injuries more and more. These injuries are having a chance to heal better this spring season as he has already been out of practice for this week and will be out longer.

Sleep is very good for a concussion. Since he had a CT Scan done and it showed there was no bleeding in his head, we did not have to keep waking him up the first night he was home. He slept fairly well that night which he really needed.

The second night, he didn’t sleep as good and we suspect it was because he was playing some video games which can be a big no-no when you have a concussion. Some of the flashing lights were bothering him when he was playing. With no video games on Easter and another quiet day with plenty of good food for him to eat, he had another a fairly restful night before going back to school on Monday morning.

During his freshman year, he was given a baseline cognitive test. He was given another cognitive test this past Thursday morning before he went to a follow up visit with a neurologist. He scored lower on his test and it took him longer to do the testing; two things they assess when retaking the test. The neurologist recommended that he go for an MRI next week just to make sure everything is ok. At least all of these safe guards are in place now and he cannot go right back into football practice to risk further injury.

In order to return to play, an athlete must be symptom free for at least 24 hours and then it will be a graduated return with a step progression that the team and player must follow. If the athlete feels symptoms at any of the steps, they are supposed to stop, recuperate, start at step one and progress through the procedure again as long as they remain symptom free. Nancy Bonk wrote an article on Returning to Play After a Concussion. It’s really not good to try to return too soon and great these new guidelines are in place for the safety of our players.

Of course I’m going to worry about my son; he’s my tough little big guy or is it big little guy. Below is the poem I am entering into the contest this year that was inspired by my latest journey. It goes through the impact, the symptoms, recovering and returning to play.

I want to preface this poem by saying I don’t want anyone to think I make fun of memory loss as my son does not have memories of that day and a half and many things still seem like a dream to him. Also, when my boys were in middle school, they lost a friend who ‘slightly’ hit his head. He even finished walking home on his own after his ‘little’ fall. Concussions are not funny, but something to take very seriously and important to know what to do with if you are faced with someone who bumped their head - even if you don’t see anything on their head. It is worth reading Concussion – The Basics written by Teri Robert.

Are you going to enter the poetry contest? You still have until May 4th!


The most complex organ
More delicate than an egg
A little bump, crack or hit to the head
Enough to cause this form of TBI.

No need for loss of consciousness
May occur without visible injury
Can last a few days, months or even much longer
Not usually life threatening; can be quite serious.

Trouble thinking, concentrating, remembering new things
Amnesia, memory loss, blurry vision, memory loss
Headache, nausea, dizziness, memory loss, fatigue
“How did I get here?”

Rest helps the brain recover
Don’t take one for the team
No drugs or alcohol to slow down healing
Refrain from yard work, video games and physical activity.

Fully asymptomatic, both at rest and after exertion
Gradual step progression and cognitive function checks
Return to play slowly when no signs reappear
Better education, improved equipment, safety for players.

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