Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Whacks and Hacks

Okay, so I've been out of commission--at least in the blogging sense--for the past month.  I have been severely depleted in my ability to even complete the basic tasks required in the bare-bones base of my life obligations.  It has been a little scary, actually.

This month has been the month of three--yes, THREE--unexpected blows to the head.  I won't bore you with the details, but suffice it to say that the first resulted in a coup injury, which is when an object in motion strikes the stationary skull--in this case, my skull, with an empty plastic milk crate falling a distance of 3 feet and whacking a corner on the top of my head near the front forehead hairline.  I saw a blinding light and lost my breath and, immediately, a bunch of tears began running down my face (though I wasn't actually actively crying that I know of).

Needless to say, it was extremely painful and it was frightening.  I had a small knot on my head, which I thought was good because I'd seen little kids whack their heads on the driveway or playground or something like that and get a huge knot on their heads like a horn.  I reasoned that my small knot must be a smaller deal.  Not so, apparently.  When the knot doesn't move outward, ostensibly it moves inward, creating further pressure on the already angry brain.  Anyway, I didn't know this at the time and just moved on with life, taking four ibuprofen every four hours to control the terrible headache that wouldn't go away.

It wasn't until three days later, when the humongous bruise (from the deflected blow of the crate onto my arm from my head) began to show that I realized just how hard I must have hit my head.  That, in combination with the lingering headache and concerns about taking so much ibuprofen every day for days (!), sent me to my chiropractor for an appointment.  After an adjustment my headache was better, so I moved on with life, thankful that I hadn't done more serious damage.

Hmmm.  I said I wouldn't bore you with details.  Sorry.  To make a long story short, a couple of days later I whacked my head again, this time in a contrecoup injury, which is when the skull in motion strikes a stationary object--in this instance, the front of my skull-in-motion striking the rear door of the van while trying to load some things into it.

(NOTE: It seems that I am the last in our family to know that our back van door--normally electronic and raising itself just fine, thank you very much--has gotten tired and old and has stopped raising itself all the way when asked to do so by the little magic button.  I pushed said button, picked up the stuff, and leaned into the back of the van to load it as I've done a million times before, whacking the front of my head--hard!--about an inch over from the previous spot.)

After this whack, I began to be tired a lot and to have trouble focusing and thinking clearly,  In other words, my brain was slow and not working right.  Every bit of mental processing took about twice as long as usual.  Another trip to the chiropractor revealed that I had a concussion.  I was told to take it easy and rest.  (Yeah right!  I have a family to take care of and students to teach and piano lessons to give, and, and...)  I was told not to tax my eyes with reading or computer screen time.  (Yeah right!  I have about 20 stories around 25 pages each to read and grade...)  I was told to stop in the middle of each day and completely rest my eyes and brain for at least 20 minutes.  (Um.  Excuse me?  You want me to do what?  For how long?)

I tried my best to comply with these restrictions, but it's been tough.  Slowly, my brain was starting to work right again, when I whacked my head yet a third time.  (I know, I know.  Someone please remove the sign from my back so I can stop this string of silliness.)  It was the van door again.  Having learned of her finicky refusal to rise all the way electronically, I had turned her to manual mode and been raising her, manually, all the way with my own two little hands.  This had been my practice for a couple of weeks, so I can only assume that I did do this this time, too, and that Little Miss Lazy Van Door has decided that she won't stay all the way up even when manually raised to that position, because this third time I whacked my head on the way out of the back of the van, on the back of my head.  Again, a contrecoup injury, but this time with the skull-in-motion hitting the stationary object in a different direction, resulting in a different motion-inside-the-skull for the little brain being bounced around in there.

My little angry brain declared an all-out timeout.  (I was not really able to process much very well, though I did still understand things and could respond to them if you gave me enough time.)  I took the day off from work and went to bed to "rest my eyes and brain" around 11:30 in the morning.  I awakened five hours later, around 4:30 in the afternoon.  I couldn't believe it!  I had slept as hard as any overnight sleep, in the middle of the day, for FIVE HOURS!  I was sure that I would never be able to sleep that night, but I went to bed around 9:00 pm, very tired, and slept all night long just fine.

After that I have been gradually improving, feeling less tired and less "slow" as the days go by.  Last weekend, almost two weeks ago now, I contracted some sort of sickness involving a terrible cough that has lasted, without improvement, the entire time.  The coughing gives me a headache, too, so between the two, I sort of have just become accustomed to some mild pain in my head most of the time.

Today I will head to the doctor, at the behest of my family and students, who have declared that it is time for me to go get checked out with the lingering cough.  I guess they're tired of being hacked at!

And by now, if you've read this, I'm sure you're tired of hearing about the ins-and-outs of my whacks and hacks.  I just wanted to get it down, for posterity's sake.  (As if they'll care!)

And that is all.  Except to say that football players--long teased stereotypically as athletically and physically gifted but academically lacking--may be neither "dumb" nor "slow"--any of them--but simply suffering the effects of repeated, perpetual concussions.  Scary thought.

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