In Praise Of Safety Gear
Alternative title for this blog posting: I love my brain.
About 7 weeks ago, my hockey team’s goalie was knocked out of the season with a grade 2 concussion. A few months ago my coworker’s father died after having hit his head on the ice during a hockey practice that he was coaching. And just last week, actress Natasha Richardson died after hitting her head when she fell while skiing on a beginner’s hill. And all of these incidents were very fresh in my mind as the back of my head slammed to the ice during one of my hockey games on Sunday after being hit, after the whistle. Since the hit came (did I mention?) after the whistle, I really wasn’t expecting it, so I wasn’t braced for it and I fell straight backwards, hitting the back on my head (within my helmet) smack on the ice. I remember very clearly thinking: “oh my god! My head just hit the ice! People die from that!” I got off the ice and I felt ok, so I kept playing. In retrospect, this was actually a dangerous thing to do since, as it turns out, I had a concussion. If I’d gotten hit like that again, a second concussion would have been really, really bad, as getting a second concussion before a first concussion heals makes that second concussion way more severe that it would have been otherwise. I didn’t really even realize I’d done anything all that bad until later that night, after I got home from my second game of the day, when I had a bit of a headache. I went to work yesterday morning, but as soon as I started looking at the computer screen the headache got nasty. So I decided to be better safe than sorry and went to get checked out by my doctor. And the doc said that I did, in fact, have a mild concussion. I don’t have most of the really bad symptoms of concussion (such as blurred vision, nausea, memory loss) – just a headache, my balance is a bit off and I seem to lose my training of thought a bit. My brain isn’t swelling, so that’s a good thing, and the headache should go away (and my balance & train of thought should come back) over the next several days. After that, I really shouldn’t have any lasting effects (unless I get more concussions – the effect of multiple concussions seems to be increased risk of things like dementia and Parkinson’s). I’ve still got the headache, especially if I look at a computer screen (I’m actually typing this with a cloth over the screen so that I don’t have to look at it – I figure I can handle a few minutes to proofread it as long as I don’t also have to look at it while I type).
And really, I do just want to say that I love my brain, I don’t like not being able to think straight or get my work done, and I’ve very, very happy that I was wearing a good helmet when my head hit the ice. I’m a big proponent of safety gear in sports – I wear a full face shield and a neck guard in addition to all the other safety gear that one wears to play hockey (yesterday my doctor told me about seeing a teenager who died playing hockey when he wasn’t wearing a neck guard, he was knocked down and someone skated right over his throat!) – and this just reaffirms my support of all things safety gear!