Friday, May 14, 2010

Baseball, Bumps & Bruises

I have done sports my whole life. I always got to pick a fall/winter activity and a summer activity. In the spring, I had to take swimming lessons. My parents felt strongly that learning to swim as a child is a practical and potentially life-saving skill. In the fall/winter, I tried ballet, gymnastics (was apparently good, but my mom hated the sport so she steered me away), jazz, and then stuck with figure skating. In the summer, I ended up liking baseball (softball/fastpitch) and sticking with it for a number of years.

Between figure skating and baseball, and various other games and informal sports, I had plenty of bumps and bruises. I'm quite klutzy. I even banged my head in figure skating (twice were falls from jumps, but one time was a lay back spin that I laid too far back on!). Even through all these years, I only broke one bone (in my hand). And while the head injuries hurt, as they always do, I don't believe any were a concussion.

Well, last night, I suffered my first concussion. I was playing 2nd base in a co-ed slow-pitch league. It was my second game this season. A really fast ground ball came to me, and I stopped it in my glove. Unfortunately, I didn't grip it enough, and it sprung up and smacked me in the jaw. My jaw hit the back of my head so hard that it felt like my brain rattled into the back of my head. I "saw stars" for a few seconds, walking aimlessly around the field in a daze. I left the field, sent Wade to get me ice (for the jaw) and sat out the rest of the game. I felt better by the end of the game, but I was very spacey at work today as I was furiously finishing a report that was due at noon. (It wasn't my fault the report was almost late; the lab was late in getting their results to us.) It was a struggle because I felt like my brain was wading through mud: I couldn't concentrate, there was a ringing in my ears, loud noises were really painful, I was tired, slightly disoriented (not quite dizzy, but definitely off-kilter) and had a headache.

As soon as the report was off, I sent it off and left work. I went to an urgent care centre, where I had x-rays (nothing was broken) and was diagnosed with a minor concussion. Apparently, if something hits the side of your head (temporal bone), it's possible to have a head bleed. Fortunately, the ball hit me lower in the jaw (mandible). However, hitting the jaw is a common cause of concussion.

Strictly speaking, all concussions are brain injuries, and no concussion is truly minor. Many people fail to realize the severity of concussions, even "mild" concussions. By having one concussion, I am now at an increased risk of repeated concussions. The more concussions one has, the greater the chance of psychiatric disorders, mood disorders, impaired memory, brain damage and even "punch drunk syndrome" (a horrible disease that is essentially a combination of parkinson's disease symptoms, alzheimer's disease symptoms, cognitive impairment and slower mental processing). Of course, I am not going to develop any of these issues off one concussion, but I will be careful. I will even consider getting a mouth guard. (There is evidence mouthguards can prevent concussions by prevent your jaw from banging into your head, but it is not known for sure. But I felt the blow from my jaw knocking my head. Plus, if the ball had been a few inches to the right, I might have lost some of my teeth!)

I now have post-concussion syndrome, starting a couple hours afterward: headache, difficult concentrating, sensitivity to noise, ringing in the ears last night, couldn't sleep last night, tired all day today, feeling disoriented / slow, and nausea. Post-concussion syndrome is "debated" by some doctors, but I am telling you I am feeling all these symptoms (and I didn't even know this was post-concussion syndrome until I got home and looked up concussion on-line to research what I can do to heal faster). I am glad this is a minor concussion. My brain is on "slow motion", and though the headache isn't nearly as bad, I still feel "off-kilter".

Does anyone have any experiences with concussion? First-hand or otherwise? (I'm okay and have seen a doctor, so don't worry!)


  1. Ouch! I'm glad you're ok.
    Just one super minor concussion for me. I was riding my horse and she spooked. (Though to be fair, she wasn't the only one that jumped. The dog startled me too!) She slipped because we were on asphalt and we went down flat on our sides. Fortunately I was wearing a helmet but I still got a bit of a headache and nausea. Nothing as bad as what you have! At least not that I remember. I just remember sitting on the couch when I got home though. I can't imagine trying to rush a report!

  2. I never had one luckily. But J had one when she was younger. Her sister accidentally smacked her head into a glass coffee table. Ouch.

    I hope that you feel better soon. People often disregard the severity of head injuries. Glad that you're taking it seriously.

    Feel better Krista! xoxo