I just got done IM’ing with a relative whose daughter has fallen and hit her head twice in the space of a few days. That set off alarm bells with me, because her latest head trauma left a pretty big knot on her forehead, and it sent her to the ER.
And the child was running around like a crazy person, jumping and running and getting into everything — just like someone whose brain is not only agitated, but also very distractable. Another warning flag.
Then they posted a picture of her when the weather was unseasonally hot, saying that she was telling them she was cold. Okay, another red flag — feeling cold (or hot) for no reason is also a possible sign of a concussion.
So, after days of deliberating — one of the girls’ parents is a doctor who cannot abide having their authority challenged, so I didn’t want to step on any toes — I finally broke down this morning and IM’ed them about the possible warning signs of concussion with their daughter. I gave them some background and some links to read (click here to see what I shared), and I tried to reassure them that concussion is not the end of the world.
All I really wanted to convey was that she needs to rest. Even if her brain isn’t showing signs of concussion in imaging, she still got hit, and resting the brain is never a bad idea — especially after a few hits in a row.
I shouldn’t have been surprised, when I got back the message “She did NOT have a concussion! The ER checked her out and cleared her and assured us that she was fine! But thanks for your concern and the links – I’ll keep them for later reference.”
And so they cycle of TBI trauma continues. The injury is one thing — the aftermath of dealing with people who don’t understand, and are too superstitious or fearful to inquire further and learn for themselves… well, that’s where a lot of the ongoing trauma lies. Knowing what I know from personal experience about childhood brain injuries (I had a bunch, myself), I’m guessing that sweet little girl could have a long, hard road ahead of her. Her parents are in denial — to brush me back that quickly, that abruptly, just smacks of fear. And since they are extremely religious, my guess is that any neurological issues that child has over the coming years are going to be chalked up to “sin” and “character issues”. And my heart really aches for her situation.
Because I’ve been there.
Obviously, there are differences between us. Our family circumstances are different. Our parents’ professions are different. Our economic status is different. Plus, all brain injuries are unique, and all situations are unique, and all children are unique. I can only hope that we’re not similar in the most difficult ways, and she doesn’t have the same tough road to walk that I did.
Maybe she will be fine. Maybe the doctors (in a rural, remotely removed part of the USA) will prove right. Maybe there’s no cause for concern.
But if I had a dime for every parent who brushed off their kid’s head injury as “normal” and then proceeded to punish and discipline and belittle their child who had objectively measurable neurological issues, I wouldn’t need to work another day in my life.
And that just makes me ill. Fear takes over, of course. That’s human nature. And superstition steps in to allay the fears. Relying on the expertise of “trained professionals” — many of whom are NOT up on the latest developments around traumatic brain injury and recovery, is just another form of superstition and misplaced trust — and that opinion comes from plenty of life experience.
All I can do for that child, is hope for the best, do what I can to reach her parents, and leave the rest up to destiny. Or perhaps God / some Higher Power.
That little girl won’t be a child forever. She’ll grow up and have the chance to recover from all the mental and emotional abuse and neglect. She’ll reach majority age (I sincerely hope) and have access to tools and approaches that can — and will — free her spirit from the cage I see them building around her. She won’t be a hostage of those blind and fearful people forever. Eventually, she’ll become an adult who can make choices for herself, who can decide on her own, what direction to take, and she may do just that.
Only time will tell. But for the time being, I’ve got to get my mind off it. It’s too distressing, and I still have another day off, till my regular life resumes, as per usual. So, I’ll take my walk in the woods, think about the things I want to think about… and hopefully wear myself out enough to get another nap. I’ve had a headache, on and off, for the past month, and yesterday it bloomed into a derailing migraine. The worst thing is, it sets in after long naps — just when I expect to be 100% with it, I get set back.
And then I feel like crap.
Well, I’ve felt like crap — depressed, on and off — for a couple of months, now, and it hasn’t stopped me from living my life. Depression for me is like bad weather. I just adjust to the conditions, equip myself to deal with it, and get on with my life.
Sometimes I get a little “wet” from it all, but it passes. Damp dries out. The depression passes. And eventually things come back to some semblance of normal.
Yep, it’s time for that walk in the woods.
Be well, everyone.