Welcome back! Sorry this is a little late, I tried to find a doctor to give me some crucial information, but to no avail! Not to fret, I offer criticisms of the field anyhow. I have selected a topic that firstly, is super important to me (as it should be to you,) and second, I could pen volumes and volumes. However, I will condense my musings into a length more suited to this bloggy format, and as always, try to make a point while entertaining.
*******Disclaimer!!!!!!!! I have three and a half quarters studying to be a doctor! What I say here is based purely on experience, and a a very basic knowledge of the brain. Very basic! If you have, or even suspect you have a head injury, I suggest seeing a doctor IMMEDIATELY!!
Understanding the Brain
There is a troubling trend in science today, especially in the medical field. This dangerous trend is the belief that we have an advanced grasp on the way the universe, and all of God’s creations in it, compose themselves and operate.
… Our brains are made of 100 billion neurons, connected to each other through TRILLIONS of pathways.
Same with with our knowledge of the body and brain. If our knowledge was represented by a year long calendar, what we understand as fact would add up to the first minute on New Year’s Day. Maybe. We like to think that we’re smart beings, and compared to those goats that freeze and go stiff when they get scared, we are. But our brains are made of 100 billion neurons, connected to each other through TRILLIONS of pathways. (Go ahead and try to explain consciousness, I’ll wait.) It’s foolhearted to think we have the faintest idea of how this brilliantly designed organ works. ***Here’s another disclaimer; if your doctor thinks they understand how a brain works, run, don’t walk, away.
Ever Changing Protocols
The first clue highlighting how little we know about concussions, is concussion management protocols that change faster than teenage moodswings. Formerly, the LAST thing you were to do if concussed is sleep. Now, of course, we “know” that the first thing an injured brain needs, like any other injured body part, is rest, and plenty of it. What probably happened is one time, someone went to sleep after a bad head injury, and for whatever reason they didn’t wake. So from then on, we put every person with a concussion at risk. Scary.
There were few restrictions on the amount of light and sound exposure those post-concussion should be allowed. Now we limit these to such an extent that extreme cases require a complete ban on visual and auditory stimulation for days! The changes are still occurring! A recent article in the New York Times cites minimal exercise may help the healing process. Do yourself a favor and seek professional help for the latest. The internet is full of fibbers, I’ve been told.
I have adopted a common sense approach to health-care of late. If something I do helps, I do more of it. If it makes things worse, I don’t do it. Painful truth: When it comes to things like the brain, your doctor is guessing too. It’s an extremely well informed guess, and nine times out of ten, it’s better than your guess. But until we understand the brain COMPLETELY, backwards and forwards, we will forever be guessing. All I wanted to do after getting my bell rung was sleep for a while. Perhaps if I had, I would be enjoying a different kind of existence.
The Onus of the Athlete
It’s not just the doctors who need to change the program. Athletes should be more honest with how they feel following concussions, and parents need to be more informed about the actual dangers associated with brain. There is NOTHING wrong with being cautious after an event that may end up dictating a life.
In hockey, the prevailing attitude is that if you don’t need a stretcher, you should be on the ice. Maybe that’s OK when you have something cut and dried like, “Hey, let me take a stride to test whether my ACL is severed. Yes, my leg is now folded in half.” Head injuries are far more dubious in nature however. They may not even present symptoms immediately. Especially when brains are involved, the tough as nails, play through anything mentality needs to be amended.
Head injuries are far more dubious in nature, they may not even present symptoms immediately
On a side note, I see all the lawsuits coming out of the NFL and NHL. I understand more than anyone how frustrating it is to look back and wonder why the hell you would keep playing after receiving such cranial punishment. But regardless of its validity, it was the culture back then, and you’re lying to yourself saying you weren’t fully bought in to it. Unless you were begging to be taken out, and a team FORCED you by whatever means to play, you have no business filing suit. Moreover, you are shirking your role, alienating your former teammates, and giving the sport you loved (and were compensated for,) a horrible name. Stop it.
When I contemplate on my hockey career, and life in general, it’s incredible I didn’t get ALS even younger than the extremely young 28 years old. I did EVERYTHING wrong. From following bad protocols that didn’t feel right, to believing I could blast through a head injury like I had others. I consider myself above average intellectually, but I blew it completely with my health.
I experienced literally every sign they warn you to look for when you have a screw loose. Not, “OMG, I’m literally dying I’m so hungry right now,” in the moron sense of the word. Literally, like throwing up in my mouth the next shift after getting trucked. Literally, like being unable to concentrate at school for weeks. Literally, like having so many holes in my memory, my girlfriend would question my love for her.
I would laugh at weird times, and cry at even weirder times… There were times when I couldn’t talk
After the bop on the head that I never recovered from, being outside on a cloudy day WITH sunglasses was hard – for years!! I didn’t understand why. My personality changed over night, and I couldn’t figure it out. I would laugh at weird times, and cry at even weirder times and could not put two and two together. There were times when I wouldn’t be able to talk. Couldn’t even make a sound, and head injury didn’t enter my mind.
Before I Derail, Let Me Wrap it Up
I was thinking about this blog in bed, (calm yourselves ladies,) and it finally hit me… I gave myself ALS. That’s not an easy property to own. Through my actions, and inaction, I signed up for a life where I need to communicate my brilliance like Steven Hawking, and I need help with everything. I’ve affected many lives by my ignorance… It’s quite a burden. I had never thought of it that way, and it made for a rough night, and I don’t know if there will be a time where it’s not in the back of my mind.
I want to be perfectly clear on this issue – You CANNOT be too careful with your brain. We just don’t know how to fix them, and believe me they control EVERYTHING!! Be smart while playing sports. I suggest getting a baseline test before, so you know what you’re like when you don’t have a concussion, and it will be more clear when you do have one. But above all, err on the side of extreme caution when you bonk your head. And most importantly, if concussions become common, stop playing. If you take one thing from this blog, let it be the previous sentence. I probably should have misspelled words and just cursed for no reason because I come across as completely brilliant, I know! But if you want to see what it looks like, stop by and I’ll show you! Until next time folks!