Remember last week, when I asked when hockey season would ever end? 

It did, but not in a nice way.  Griffin got a concussion on the first day of camp, so camp was over.  Also over for the next month: riding a bike, rollerblading, taking power skating lessons, horsing around with his brothers–pretty much all the things that make a boy’s summer.   If you have been following discussions in the news about concussions in the NHL, you will know that one of the most dangerous aspects of concussion is exposing the player to injury again.  A second injury can increase the damage exponentially.

At the end of day one of camp, Griffin slipped while chasing the puck during a scrimmage.  No other players were involved.  He was wearing a helmet.  There are no marks on his helmet, no bruises or lumps on his head.  He said he felt a bit dizzy after falling, but his shift ended right then, and he just went to the bench.  Neither of his coaches remember the fall; it did not hit their radars.  I picked him up an hour later, as scheduled, and we all walked home.  Nothing unusual.  He had a drink, a snack and watched t.v.  A full three hours after falling, he suddenly had a serious headache, then threw up.  He threw up again 30 minutes later.  I suspected food poisoning.  Thank goodness, my husband’s first question when I told him was, “Was he hit on the ice at hockey camp today?” 

I called the Telehealth Ontario nurse (thank you, Canada!!) and she recommended we take him to the emergency room.

Diagnosis: mild concussion.

Griffin has been fine since.  No other signs of symptoms, though we are still watching out for them.

What is most frightening about concussion is that the symptoms are so delayed.  I spoke to another mother whose son did not have symptoms until 24 hours after an accident, and because it was such a delayed response, the diagnosis of concussion was also delayed.

This has, of course, led to much hand-wringing on my part about exposing my son to harm, about questioning our choices for sport, about the culture of suck it up and keep playing.  Detailing my angst about hockey culture, I think, will have to wait for another day, because it suddenly looms as an enormous topic, much too big to scale.

In the mean time, please take something from our brush with concussion.  Put helmets on your skaters, bladers and bike-riders.  When headache and nausea appear together, with or without a loss of consciousness, no matter how slight the bump to the head may have appeared, and no matter how long after the fall, take it as a serious possibility of concussion and call a medical professional.

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