My Stories: Concussion

All memories are manipulated by the passage of time, I’m aware that for this one I’m particularly conscious of that.

The other evening I was talking to my parents about an event that happened when I was a teenager. In those days I played rugby at least once a weekend, but more often twice. This involved playing for both a local rugby club and for my secondary school. My Dad’s recollection is that in this particular game I was playing for the school team, against the school teachers, that’s not something I remember so I’m not sure whether this is true or not. The game was certainly being played on one of the pitches at school.

At some point during the game I received a boot to the chin. My recollection is that this was received whilst trying to dive in front of  a ball that a member of the opposition was kicking further up the field.  Clearly I mistimed my dive and got a bit too close.

The rest of the game is a mystery as is the journey home.

The next thing I have is a dim memory of falling down the stairs – while I was trying to go to the toilet. This isn’t as odd as it sounds, at my parent’s house the door to the toilet is next to the top of the stairs, but it does mean that I missed the toilet door by at least a metre.

My next dim memory is of my mum talking to me in the car (on the way to the hospital). Apparently, I was steadily drifting off and the only voice that I would respond to was my Mum’s.

Time continued it’s merry journey, but my participation in it was limited. I have a memory of lying on a bed with people trying to get me to do things, but that’s about all. My Mum’s memory is of walking into the Casualty unit at the hospital and being waved through by the receptionist; I clearly looked unwell.

The following morning I awoke and looked around to find myself in a hospital ward. The bed opposite was occupied by a man who had a shaved head and stitches that started just above one of his eyes and reached all the way over his head beyond where I could see. He smiled at me and said “morning!” The man in the bed to the right had a similar cut but this time from ear to ear. My first response was to run my hands over my head to see where the damage was. Eventually I found a graze on my chin which was developing a nice bruise beneath it; it was a relief.

Later on that morning there was a ward round. The person leading the round (a Consultant I assume) was not impressed. In my notes there were a lot of x-rays of my head, the Consultant looked through each one slowly.

“Why did we take so many x-rays?” he asked.

“Because he wouldn’t stay still.” was the answer from one of the juniors.

“Wasn’t it obvious what was wrong with him?” the Consultant responded.

There was no response to this question.

“This young man has a mark on his chin and he’s been playing rugby. Surely concussion is the obvious diagnosis!”

That was all that was said, no one spoke to me, I was just the patient. What needed to be said had been said and it was time to move on. Later on that day it was my time to move on.

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