My Kid’s Not Normal

Wendy has a concussion, and I remarked to a few friends that it was nice to have normal kid problems.

You see, after many years of having Wendy surf the medical system with her kidney transplant, and not-quite-type-one diabetes (her pancreas works at 15%, so it needs insulin but it’s not officially type one), her high blood pressure, her quirky dietary restrictions, and her eye-tracking/learning difficulty (it turns out its hard to read when your eyes don’t track at the same rate–who knew?) It was nice to settle into a diagnosis that lots of kids get, a sports-related injury.

A normal kid problem.

Wendy is the striker on her soccer team, and over the course of a weekend at a tournament, she played a total of 5 games, where she scored 9 points.  In the third game on the first day, she received a cheap shot from an opposing player, who blindsided her from the right side, causing her to go flying and land on the ground, where she hit her head on the left side.  The player got a yellow card for the action.  Wendy was pulled out and tested for a concussion, but she seemed to be ok, so we let her play the next day.

The next day she was playing in her second game and she had already scored on this goalie.  She was barreling down the field and was about to shoot, when the goalie, instead of stepping back to take the shot, stepped forward to engage Wendy, and Wendy went flying over the leg of the goalie and landed on her right side.

That’s when she was definitely not herself, and after a trip to the Emergency Department, it was confirmed that she had a concussion.

A normal kid problem, Except, of course, that it’s not normal.

Wendy’s concussion seems to be taking a bit longer than most concussions for her to get closer to baseline, it’s a slower recovery.  There are lots of possibilities for this, like maybe instead of a mild-moderate concussion, it’s more like a moderate concussion, or maybe it’s because she had seizures in the acute stages of her illness as a child, or maybe it’s because her anti-rejection drugs are neuro-toxic (they’re tough on the brain.)

The truth is, I could wonder these things all the live long day, and it’s not going to get me anywhere, because the recovery protocol is the same:  rest, no screens, moderate brain activity until she is symptom free.  So now, two weeks later, she’s started half days at school and then coming home and sleeping all afternoon.  We wait, and she sleeps, and she gets a little stronger every day.  But she’s such a vibrant kid, who is always in motion, always joking, always singing to herself, it’s tough to see her only be a part of her normal ebullient self.

As a parent, we are only as happy as our least happy kid, and my least happy kid is hurting right now.

She won’t be able to start sports until a few weeks after she’s symptom free, and she is far from symptom free. In the meantime, Michael has ordered her a snazzy “concussion headband” for her to wear next time she plays, where she will look a lot like an actor on the TRON movie set, and we’re looking into ways to get her trained to learn how to roll instead of land on her head.  Because there’s no way she’s going to stop playing soccer, it might be the thing she loves the most to do, and what all of her friends do, and as long as she is feeling good, we will keep her at it.

Because that’s what we do as her parents.  We support her through this crazy life, to live it the best way she can, the way that makes her happy.  And soccer makes her happy.  Even if it’s a little rough to watch her sometimes because I know all the things that could go wrong.  I still wait to see if she gets up after the hard hits and she often will give us the two thumbs up to tell us she is ok.

And we move forward.  Not normal, but that’s all right.  We move forward anyway.


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