Feeling nervous about my lack of practice and my upcoming driving lesson, I found the best way to get out of a lesson ever…. I banged my head, hard, and gave myself a concussion. Unintentionally, of course. Lets be clear, I’m not a sadist.
We have an over the range microwave. I was heating up lunch for Baby-G, took it out, forgot to shut the door. A few minutes later I was striding at full speed across the kitchen and managed to bang my head on the pointy corner of the open door at just the right (or wrong really) angle.
I reeled. I howled like a beast. I grabbed an ice pack. I started sobbing, and I couldn’t stop. Not because of pain, there was no great pain. I simply couldn’t stop sobbing. It was like the spot I hit was the crying spot or something. At first I thought just some ice and I’d be fine, but I quickly realized that I did NOT feel right. I was cold all over and I couldn’t stop sobbing. I tried to call my mom. She was luckily already on her way to my house to watch Baby-G for me during my driving lesson.
Everything’s a little fuzzy. I moved back and forth. I changed icepacks. I felt dizzy. My hands shook. I fell down in the hallway and sat there sobbing waiting for my mom. Baby-G sat next to me and gave me hugs. She seemed unfazed.
My mom arrived, checked me over, removed a small piece of my scalp from the microwave door (seriously), and decided to drive me to the hospital. I still couldn’t stop sobbing. And ludicrous things kept slipping out of my mouth.
I want to explain this clearly because it was the strangest part of the whole experience. My mind was calm and quiet and felt quite normal. I understood 100% of what was going on, I didn’t feel confused. But I couldn’t speak. I would hear a question, understand it, try and answer and I couldn’t make the words come out right. Ask me my name, of course I know my name! I know my birthday! I know what year it is! What silly questions, but so so hard to speak the answers. My inability to spit out the right words made me tremble and sob. I kept saying, I’m sorry. Yes. No. Those words were easy. I found single word answers possible, while sentences were so slippery.
Colours kept tumbling out of my mouth. Like I was looking at the waiting room chairs and they were blue, and without conscience choice I would find myself saying, “Blue, blue, blue.” My mom’s watch was “Silver”. The package of tissues was “Purple”.
We sat in the waiting room where all the chairs face a large TV. Some talk show was on, inoffensive enough. But the commercials were disturbing, too much movement. My mom helped me find the one chair in the room where I wouldn’t have to see the TV. I hid in the corner and waited.
I calmed down and stopped sobbing. Just sitting quietly was fine. I felt so normal I felt ridiculous for being in the emergency room. But when I tried to talk, the words were so HARD, the wrong things would slip out, shapes, colours. My bottom lip would shake as I tried to make the right words come. My husband arrived. I couldn’t explain to him what happened, or how no one at the hospital had spoken to me, and I didn’t know what was going on, He caught me counting the zippers on my purse, asked me what I was doing, “1,2,3, see? And the other way upside down”. And then I started shaking and sobbing again. I knew how wrong everything coming out of me sounded and it made me shake.
Five hours in the emergency room. And I couldn’t read a book. And I certainly couldn’t chat.
I found myself thinking strange thoughts. The woman sitting across from me… Her Puma sneakers were fascinating. “Purple. ” I wanted to get down on the floor and check them out. I wanted to touch them.
I hadn’t eaten all day. I was starving. No food or drink as we wait to have a CT scan done. I was left sitting in a small room and the bare wall across the way has four small rectangles on it. Two outlets, two something else. They looked so tasty. I wanted to eat them. Looking at them was making me so hungry. When I realize how ludicrous my thoughts are I start to sob again.
Now I didn’t act on these thoughts, but I couldn’t stop having them. It was like my mind, my internal dialogue, split into two voices, the rational normal me, and the crazy hit in the head me.
Eventually I had a CT scan and was sent home. No sign of internal bleeding or swelling. The nurse we spoke with said “Everything should be ok. Concussion. 7-10 days. Follow up with your family doctor next week. No, I wouldn’t leave her alone with the children.”
After spending most of the day in the emergency department, we come home from the hospital. I stand at the top of the stairs feeling vertigo, holding my two year old’s hand. I am scared to move. I yell out to my husband, “Moe?? Too many rectangles!!” He helps me put the kids to bed. I tremble. I nurse Baby-G but worry about lifting her to place her into bed. I eat and head to bed very early. My husband wakes me up every two hours, as per hospital orders.
Moe tells me when I talk I sound like River from Firefly/Serenity, and he wonders if I will come out of this with any crazy kick butt Kung-fu powers.
I can see fine, no blurriness no headache. I can’t read a book because I get lost and read the same passages over and over. I can’t watch TV. Too much movement, dizzying. And even if it is slow and still everything looks too deep, like I am watching a 3D movie. Characters look like paper cut outs in a field 20 feet deep. Like I should be able to reach behind them into the screen.
One of my blogging pals, @gingermommy (Tales of a Ranting Ginger), tracks down my phone number and calls to see how I’m doing. Her unexpected phone call confuses the heck out of me but is also very sweet.
Husband stays home from work, tells me he doesn’t want me left alone, I try to spend time with my kids. It’s hard. The two year old, often when she talks I can’t understand her. This is normal. But right now my brain can’t parse it. It’s bewildering, terrifying.
When there are two of them, they talk both at once, and I can only focus on one thing at a time. Several times I’ve been reduced to tears by both of them just talking. The big one never stops talking, and she asks so many questions. I can’t keep up, I don’t have enough words. They never stop moving. It’s too much to watch. And when they yell or cry its all lines and stars. They want to touch my hair, always. And when they pull on any right side hair it’s like fire and knives in my head.
I sleep. A lot. I feel ridiculously physically tired. Like I hiked all day, spent hours lifting weights. Muscles in my arms and legs feel exhausted. Sometimes it feels like I’m doing everything underwater.
My eyes are slow to adjust to changes in light. My eyes feel like when you get those yellow drops at the optometrist. Everything is just a little too sharp, too vivid, too bright. It makes it hard to focus.
I find shapes everywhere. Mainly circles. It’s like the circles are backlit or highlighted. Making my eyes be drawn to them. And I find them comforting some how. I like circles, circles are nice. I realize how ludicrous this is and it scares me.
I walk my daughter to the bus stop. It’s terrifying. The views are too long. Everything is too bright. The trees are the wrong shape. Too many cars moving. Crossing the street is terrifying. I put her on the bus and walk home in tears.
My husband is worried and takes me back to the hospital. They send us across town to a different hospital, that has neurologists on staff. The triage nurse says, “Did anyone tell you these things are all normal for a concussion?” We wait and see a doctor who sends me home after telling me he can’t explain my symptoms because he doesn’t see how I could get a concussion from walking into a microwave door, not enough force of impact. He didn’t take me seriously. This makes me angry. Something is wrong with me. I hit my head and then all of this. My husband suggests maybe it’s all just in my head. I want to cry. I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.
In the evening I try to watch TV with my husband. Grown up TV is better then kids, less jumping, less sudden movement.
I walk G-Girl to the bus and again it is very unsettling. My mother-in-law comes over and watches Baby-G while hubby works. I sleep, a lot. Each day is better, but still not right. I can speak easier, line my words up right, sometimes I can listen to more then one sound at a time.
I still find easily identifiable shapes comforting, circles in particular. My husband jokes that I should sit down and watch the Baby Einstein “I know my shapes” video. He teases that it would be the most satiating half hour of television I’ve ever experienced.
G-Girl goes to my parents’ place to sleep over for two nights. It’s easier with just one kid.
I am stuttering. That damn well better go away. Everything is too fast, I am too slow. Like there’s a time delay.
I can only focus on one thing at a time, one sound, one person. I can’t multitask, heck I can barely task. I manage to get online and write some emails. My typing is horrible. Thank God for auto-correct.
Another of my online friends, @multitestingmom (Multi-Testing Mommy), shows up on my front door step. She lives hours away but happens to be in town visiting relatives and stops by just to drop off a potted plant and give me a hug. Which is so darn nice that it makes me cry. That hug was just what I needed!
We head to the mall to pick up hubby’s new glasses. The mall is terrifying. We walk through Chapters and there is so much everywhere, my eyes don’t know where to look. It’s too much. And when we step into the mall, there are so many people, so much movement. I try and keep up, follow my husband. I am happy to be holding my two year old’s hand. It is exhausting, confusing, frustrating, scary.
Afterwards we go across the road to Toys R Us. I don’t know why we are here. Hubby is looking for a game he saw online, or looking for sales, or something for Baby-G, or just because he likes to shop? It is terrible. Too many things at once. Music from overhead, AND so many things everywhere to look at, so many colours, so many shapes, AND people moving, AND trying to keep track of Baby-G, AND trying to follow my husband AND Baby-G keeps tugging on my hand, pulling me away, AND Husband keeps showing me toys and asking my opinion, AND I need to make words. It is too much. Writing it down it sounds silly, but in life it was horrid.
I mostly sleep. I am frustrated that everything still feels wrong. I stutter. I find my two year old incredibly frustrating. She speaks nonsense. Repeats her self over and over. Asks for things that aren’t possible, and cries when I don’t comply. She makes the world make less sense and I hate it. And hate myself for being angry with her.
Right when I first wake up is the worst. I wake to the sound of Baby-G calling for me. I jump out of bed and instant confusion. Everything is dizzy and wrong and for a minute I can’t remember why. And then I remember why and I want to cry with frustration, because I am waking up, starting a new day, and this wrongness is still here. And my daughter wants everything, and wants it fast, and wants it normal. And I have a very hard time understanding her, but I know the steps of the routine so I try and walk through them. Change her, nurse her, dress her, carefully down the stairs, fill the juice cup, put food on plate. I do all these things, but I do them wrong somehow and she is grumpy and whining and crying, and I want to cry. I find myself begging her to please not make that sound. Please. She doesn’t make sense. I am lost. I am so relieved when hubby finally wakes up and comes downstairs, and I can go lay back down where it is quiet and I can close my eyes and there are no shapes.
I am feeling much more normal. Baby-G and I make it through the morning smoothly. Though by noon I’m exhausted. Shapes are no longer so strangely enticing. I speak the words I mean to say, but I am still a little slow and still sometimes stutter. My eyes still feel like they are straining too hard to focus, feels like I’m wearing the wrong eyeglasses or something.
Much the same. However, I walk G-Girl to the bus without incident. The outside no longer looks “wrong” and busy intersections are merely annoying, not terrifying.
I follow up with my family doctor, as per hospital orders. She assures me that everything I’m describing is normal for a concussion. I’m still having a bit of trouble multitasking. If there’s too much going on at once I feel overwhelmed. I’m also still stuttering, but only occasionally. I can type. I can talk. Other then some lingering fatigue, I’m pretty much back in business.
Overall, it has been one heck of an odd experience, one I feel no need to repeat. I had no idea that these sort of symptoms were normal for a concussion. I had the “movie” version of a concussion in my mind, the kind where you shouldn’t sleep and someone needs to wake you every two hours, and maybe your vision is blurry or something. Feeling so off was a bit scary, and it was a real relief to discover that what I was experiencing was par for the course. Have any of you ever gone through anything similar?