Concussed

December 13th, 2011

So, here’s an SMS you never want to get from your husband who you know has taken your son to the ER after a really hard (illegal, unnecessary, infuriating) hit in a hockey game: “SB’s pupils are normally the same size aren’t they?”

“As far as I know. Never noticed otherwise.” you message back. “Why? Are they not the same size now????”

“Nope.” comes the reply “one is larger – the left one – but could just be the light.”

At which point the only thing you can manage to type back is “What the FUCK?”

* * *

One of the small blessings of living right next door to R’s parents is that when this series of messages flew two weekends ago, my mother-in-law was able to walk across the driveway to take over putting The Boychen to bed and I packed a bag with some stuff for R and some stuff for SB – who was clearly going to be held overnight for observation – and drove to the hospital.

* * *

I’ll cut to the chase and say now that SB is okay. It was “just” a concussion; in spite of the most thorough opthalmological exam I’ve ever witnessed and a head MRI, no reason was ever found for SB’s unequal pupils. Here’s another thing you don’t really want, by the way: to watch over the technician’s shoulders as picture after picture of your son’s brain comes up on the screen. Pictures that you can’t read, and so you watch the tech’s body language instead, waiting for the widened eye, the sudden tilt of the head. It doesn’t come, but that doesn’t really make you feel any better until your kid is pulled out of the machine.

* * *

I’ve tried to write this a few times, it’s always a mess, brief paragraphs are the best I can do. Not even seven, a concussion, and though I know hockey players who have played for years and never gotten concussions, I find myself thinking “his first concussion” as if I expect more.

* * *

These recent articles in The New York Times about Derek Boogaard have not made me feel any better.

* * *

Trying to enforce a Sport-Verbot on a nearly seven year old physical boy used to playing hockey three times a week is not easy my friends. Not easy at all. SB has hated missing practice, hated being kept out of gym class at school, hates that I won’t let him play hockey in the driveway. The idea of being calm, and quiet and restful – it sort of makes him break out in hives I think and as a result his behavior at home has been … challenging.

This past Sunday was the Christmas party for SB’s team: a kids v. parents hockey tournament and then an early dinner. It was two weeks after the concussion, the earliest the doctors said he could start back with sports, and we thought it would be a good time to see how he feels – the tournament would be friendly and I would be right there on the ice to keep an eye on him. He played all three games and said he felt okay, but at bedtime he had a headache. He’s back on Injured Reserve and skipping training this week.

I played on the moms’ team and had the best time. I’ve been skating these past couple of years, but not playing hockey and this was hockey, with the full equipment, and even though it was a friendly match against the kids don’t be fooled: seven and eight year old boys play for keeps. They ran us hard. I still skate well, and I’ve got some game sense, but no puck handling skills at all; but I had so much fun that if I could somehow manufacture an additional twelve hours a week (stop laughing) I would run right out and join an adults’ recreational league because I had that much fun.

* * *

This is my new favoritest picture ever of me and the Small Boy. Look at that smile, do you think he was happy to be on the ice again? For all that hockey is a hard, physical, capricious and sometimes violent sport, anything that makes my boy smile like that has a place in this family. At least for now.