Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Concussion: Can't Think Much, But Feeling the Love Like You Can't Imagine

Sometimes, it takes an extreme event to make you realize how lucky you are, how love surrounds you everywhere even if you're not aware of it, that people care.  I think I must be a bit obtuse (or else a little bit negative, which I hope is not true because negative people irritate me ...), though, because it always seems to take some sort of crazy experience to make me realize how good the world really is.

When I was taking a shower on Saturday afternoon, I slipped and found myself suddenly airborne.  I landed on my face straight on the solid wood wall behind the tub (with such force that the shampoo and conditioner bottle flew into the toilet ... yeah, it was funny later), and the next thing I remember was sitting on the floor of the tub with blood gushing.

It was really scary, to say the least.  My first concern was my teeth (like most people that wore braces, I'm ridiculously paranoid about my teeth), but they all seemed to be there.  Relieved that I wasn't toothless, I figured out that I was bleeding from my upper lip and nose.

And that it hurt.  A lot.

I was really dizzy and my head was throbbing, but I was more caught up in the blood (oh, and okay, the very good possibility that I was going to have a huge scar on my face ... I really am a bit more appearance-obsessed than I'd like to think).

I got dressed quickly and took a picture.
The reason for a shower at two in the afternoon was because I had to be at school to chaperone a dance and wanted to be clean for the occasion.  My mother, who helped me ice and seal the cut on my face so I would not need stitches, did not think driving to work was a good idea, but I'm Co-Advisor of the senior class, which was putting the dance on, so I really had to be there.

I took this picture at a red light, just so I could monitor progress ...
Anyway, I felt okay until I got to school.  Once there, I got extremely dizzy, the muscles in my neck started killing me, and what had been a minor headache started to boom out of control.  My colleagues and the principal very kindly let me leave early to go to the hospital to be checked out.

When I got to the hospital, they put on a neck brace since the side of my neck was really sore.
As soon as the neck brace was on, my arm started to hurt horribly.  Now, it had been hurting a bit, but I figured I'd just fallen on it when I went down (I don't remember what happened after hitting my face on the wooden shelf), but the neck brace caused it to just scream.  It was awful.

Turns out my arm was black with bruises, and they thought I might have broken or dislocated my collarbone.

After x-rays and CT scans, it was determined that I had no broken bones (arm, collarbone, or face).  I did, however, have a concussion, a neck strain, and a rather ugly cut on my upper lip.  Oh, and a bad attitude.
My mom came and got me, and I introduced her to the joys of the drive-through pharmacy, then we went home.

I actually felt pretty good on Sunday and wanted to go to work on Monday (I hate missing work, and it ends up happening far too often because I'm unlucky), but the doctor note said I could not work on Monday, so I was stuck at home.

Which ended up being a really good thing.

I started off by being all upset at how awful I looked.  I posted this pic on Facebook stating that I guess now I know what I'll look like when I'm old (or if I became a meth addict or something).
As the morning went on, I started throwing up, which was, according to the discharge papers, something I should be concerned about.  I also got extremely dizzy (like, standing up and trying to walk was like being on a ship in the middle of a hurricane) and my headache just exploded with pain.

I don't remember doing this, but I wrote on Facebook meaning to ask my sister (she's a microbiologist, but for some reason I go to her for medical advice) if throwing up multiple times and being dizzy a couple of days after a concussion was normal, but I ended up posting on my own wall and tagging her in it.

I guess what got scary was that I was making typos and spelling/grammar errors.  I am ridiculously anal about spelling and grammar (I even put semi-colons in my text messages ;-)), so a lot of people started to get nervous and worried about me.

My mom also just forwarded me the following e-mail exchange we had yesterday morning, which scared her badly (I should note that my mom is a nurse practitioner, so I asked her for medical advice, too).  I'm sharing it here because I still can't believe that I wrote it ...

Hi Mommy,  
 I just threw up for the second time this morning. Is this something I should be worried about? I've felt "sick" all morning and figured itwas from the pain medicine, but wanted to see what you thought. Myheadache is really bad, too, so maybe that's why (sometimes when I get bad migraines I throw up). I wanted to let you know, though. Hope your day is going well Love you, Kate
 Hi Katie, Two things:  Is your headache the same or worse?     And:   Can you just take the valium and not the Percocet (it has Codeine in it and that gave you some trouble before)?   Try to drink some coke or other liquids and keep me posted. Love, Mom
Hi mommy,About the same. I think as long as I just sithere and don't move I'll beokay. I feel like I'm going to trow up again, though, so I'll probablyhave to figure our how to get to the bathroom. Well not how but howwithout getting more dizzy. I'm okay though.
I love you!Kate
Sent from my iPhone
Hi Mommy,
My headache is worse (althoug that might be from throwing off)
U'll take just the Valium after my stomach settles. Can I take ibuprofenthough. My head hurts.
I'm also dizzy, but that might be from throwing up. 
Can I use the cursed word lol?
Love you,kate

My mom came home from work and helped me get dressed and took me back to the ER.  The worst part was that the sun was so bright I thought my head would explode.  It was horrible.

Anyway, they did another CT scan and gave me medication via IV, and I felt much better when I woke up.  They'd given me Percocet (for pain) and Valium (for muscle relaxant) on Saturday, and they changed it to a prescription Naproxen, and I'm feeling much better now.

I have a headache right now and I'm a little sensitive to light (and my arm is still pretty sore), but I've had lots of migraines worse than this.  Also, pics of  me today don't look like mug shots ;-)
But none of that, believe it or not, is the point of this post.  It's just relevant back story.

I wrote a piece for Zelda Lily that ran earlier this week that dealt with the way technology has really taken over communication in 2012.  A guy named Jake Reilly gave up social networking (from Facebook to texting and everything in between, including cell phones and e-mail).  I thought it sounded cool, but opined that I'd never be able to do it myself.

You know what?

I'm awfully grateful for technology.  Not only did my mom come right home from work as soon as she realized that something funny was going on with me (she thought I had a subdural hematoma and would need surgery--I have no idea what that means, but it doesn't sound good), but my Facebook wall just lit the heck up.

It might sound small and insignificant, but people that I haven't seen or spoken to face to face in years were offering concern and advice.  One friend texted to say that they needed my address since they were calling an ambulance.  That just totally blows my mind (which, thanks to the concussion, probably doesn't take much, but still ...)

Now, I might be an unusual case since anything I write with spelling and grammar mistakes is kind of a flashing red warning light, but still ...

From a fair distance away, people were not only worried but willing (and able, which is just remarkable) to take action and get me help.  That's just ... well, mind-boggling.

That and the number of people that cared.  My mom kind of has to care about me (as she tells me all the time, it's in the job description), and Henry drove straight to the hospital as soon as his work day was over (he didn't find out before then because he follows the "no cell phones at school" policy ;-)), my aunt who is an O.R. nurse at the hospital I was at came down to see what was going on (she'd been following the concussion drama online), but ... all those people on Facebook, man.

All those people caring.

It's not just mind-boggling ... it's humbling.

I am so full of love for everyone that showed caring and concern for me yesterday.  I am incredibly grateful ... and I am incredibly lucky.

Just curious, if you get a chance to go read my ZL piece, what are your thoughts on technology?  Is it overused?  Are we turning into vegetables (or angry birds) as we drool at computer and/or cell phone screens, or is technology a good thing?

After yesterday, I am singing the praises of technology.  Something else to be grateful for :-)


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