2012 is going to be the year I get my groove back. I don’t normally set intentional resolutions, so I’ll call them goals, but they’re going to help me get focused. I want to re-center myself and find the new normal. Selfishly, I want the year to be focused on the things and people I enjoy–time with family and friends, reading, and cooking. Future posts will talk about some of these goals I’ve set for myself, but for now, I share about how I spent a fall feeling off-track and distracted.
Many of you know that our oldest, Tall, took a fall at the end of September. It involved an ambulance ride and a CT scan the day of the accident. What was at first diagnosed as a minor concussion turned out to be a pretty significant one. She had some of the classic concussion symptoms including disorientation, nausea, headaches, light sensitivity and coordination issues, but they just weren’t getting better as the days and weeks went on. By far, the worst were the headaches. Several times, she’d get out of bed and stagger into our room with both hands clutching her head in migraine-like agony. These debilitating headaches kept her out of school most days, but for an hour or two here and there through Thanksgiving. Being at home meant no stimuli–no reading, no tv. Imagine that for two months with a ten year old. Probably described as not fun for anyone involved. She was bored, lonely, and missed playing her beloved soccer a lot. Audiobooks, were tolerable for her, and really saved everyone’s sanity. A personal shout-out to the likes of Kirby Larson, Judy Blume, Laura Halse Anderson, and many, many others for making books my daughter loved to listen to.
The last few months have been filled with constant doctors appointment trying to find answers with rehabilitation specialists or temporary pain relief through chiropractors and a doctor specializing in craniosacral therapy. Most traumatic of all was a CAT-scan that included seven failed attempts to thread an IV for the contrast-dye injection. The good news is the doctors saw nothing significant to indicate any permanent damage or otherwise undetected bleeding. Most everyone said with time, it would all get better. The discomfort went on though.
Finally she got some relief in November, when we saw an eye doctor whose speciality includes traumatic brain injury patients. It was found she was having significant focusing problems and her eyes were not working well with each other to read efficiently. My stellar reader was tracking like a kindergartner. The doctor prescribed glasses which helped immediately with the focusing and thus headache issues, but eye therapy is needed to retrain how her brain and eyes work together as a team, and efficently. The therapy is extensive–a half hour daily, plus weekly appointments to do drills with a therapist. The cost is staggering and not covered by insurance, but we’ll get by cutting expenses here and there. . . it’s our baby’s eyes after all.
Slowly, after the glasses, she ramped up her time at school. The headaches were better. We worked with a tutor to catch up on what she missed in school. The week before school let out for winter break was the first week since late September that she was in school full-time, for the entire week. Many of her coordination and balance skills are much improved. She’s cleared to return to her normal activities and sports. But things still aren’t quite right. She used to read all of the time, but even with the glasses she seemed to be avoiding it. Knowing that avoiding reading is a classic sign of a child with vision issues, I asked her a few days ago why she hadn’t been reading much. Her face went slack and she looked so sad. She said, “It’s still really hard. The words jump around a lot.” So clearly, we have a long, long way to go. Expectations are that she will most likely always need glasses, but my goal for her is to make sure her vision is such that she can do all she wants and loves to do. Hopefully, time and therapy will help. As parents, we’re of course mindful that things could have been so much worse, so we’re grateful for the progress that’s been made in her healing.
During the last few months, I let a lot slide personally . . .home projects put off, PTSA volunteering activities done half-assed, a neglected workout schedule. I just felt off. My time was sucked elsewhere–making appointments (some of which I literally begged for), driving to appointments, fighting with insurance people about paying for those appointments. I’m a stay-at-home mom and was wiped by it all. I can’t imagine caring for this level of a concussion and working full time. As someone said, “You couldn’t do it. You’d have to take a leave of absence.” True enough.
So, as the new year rolls on, things will come into focus for Tall, literally. For me, I hope things settle and I get back to feeling right myself. The above picture was taken New Year’s Day at a beach park on Puget Sound called Picnic Point. It was a beautiful day and a fitting way to start off the new year, a year in focus.