Dear God, Thank You for Emma’s Concussion. Amen.

Wouldn’t it be crazy if you heard a mom praying that prayer? No mom on earth would wish such a thing on her own daughter, right? And, if she did, CPS should be making a surprise visit at her house.

A concussion is a serious thing and the importance of recognizing, diagnosing, and “treating” them in the high school sports arena has now been widely recognized. Thank goodness.

It wasn’t long ago that I, as a nurse, would review discharge instructions with athletes and their parents in the Emergency Room after receiving a diagnosis of “concussion”. There was always a sense of relief for everyone when the CT exam of the head came back as “negative.” Negative meant that it was just a concussion and nothing really bad.

Fast forward to present day reality and the awakening of an new awareness—a concussion can have enormous consequences.

So when my daughter, Emma, was hit in the back of the head with a soccer ball (that was kicked into the back of her head after the whistle had been blown I must add), I sat in the bleachers in anticipation. This is the 4’11’’ “bulldog” that, in the past, had played through a soccer game with a broken arm. She just didn’t bother to tell me her arm hurt until after the game.

I thought to myself, “If she doesn’t get up—she is hurt.”

Well she got up, but she immediately went back down on one knee which indicated to the refs and her coach that she needed to come out of the game.

I’m not an over reactive mom by any means. But, that doesn’t mean that I don’t internally freak out a little. Especially when it comes to any main organs of the body such as the brain.

The doctor performed some cognitive tests and compared them to her baseline tests. He was concerned with the change in her results so he immediately placed her on restrictions.

For a teenage girl, these restrictions were almost an inconceivable nightmare.

All the doctor wanted Emma to do was eat and sleep. She was to completely stay away from TV, computer, social activities, and worst of all—her cell phone.

Walking out of the doctor’s office, I was shocked at Emma’s reaction to the news. Within just a few minutes, she had already convinced herself that if she conformed to the doctor’s instructions, she would be cleared to play soccer again within two weeks. And that’s what she was convinced she was going to do.

In the meantime, all I was thinking about was how miserable our lives were going to be for two weeks.

You can’t take away everything that means anything to a teenage girl and expect everything to be okay. Either that doctor didn’t have experience with teenagers, or he was simply just evil.

I do think I heard a faint chuckle from the doctor and his nurse as we gathered our belongings and proceeded down the hall to the checkout counter.

But let me share with you some very surprising and unexpected blessings from this whole experience. Blessings that didn’t necessarily prompt me to thank God for Emma’s concussion, but definitely made me grateful for the positive side effects that can result from negative situations if you allow yourself to see them.

  • She can be nice: I think all it took was a situation that left Emma powerless to her schedule, social obligations to respond to every twitter tag or snapchat, anxiety of the strict standards she has set on herself regarding her grades, and her need to push 100% at every single soccer practice they had (which was daily). She was less irritable and more tolerant of all of us in the family.
  • She has a great personality: Emma has always made me laugh. But, there is not a lot of time for her to share that side of her personality with the world when her only down time during the day consists of homework and time in the car changing from her school uniform, to her cheer uniform, to her soccer uniform.
  • Soccer is her passion: Many times since third grade, I have considered telling Emma that soccer was just taking up too much of her time. Not only that, but it was difficult getting her from practice to practice and game to game. It gets expensive and it is a yearlong sport for her which means it is a yearlong commitment for the whole family. But now I know, soccer has played a huge part in shaping her into who she is. She is a scheduled, committed, team-oriented, and optimistic woman. But, I don’t think those are necessarily innate traits. It wasn’t until she was away from the game for a short time that I could see that she craved a structured schedule, thought of her team as more than just teammates, yearned for the exercise and competitive atmosphere, and felt mentally complete when she was able to play soccer.
  • As a parent, I have to keep her grounded: I realized that when soccer was taken away due to her concussion, Emma felt lost. Even though I am so glad that she has had soccer in her life, I need to continue to cultivate an environment that isn’t dominated by soccer. There are so many aspects to a human being that need to be nurtured: social, spiritual, mental, and physical. It’s up to me to make sure that all of those aspects are being addressed in her life so that she is maturing as a complete person. Someday her soccer career will be placed much lower on her priority list and she needs to be prepared to handle that and know how to be Emma—not just Emma, the soccer player.
  • She isn’t a quitter: When I was her age, I think the whole situation would have been enough for me to call it quits. All I would have needed was an excuse such as a concussion to quit the craziness of the sport, nap when I wanted, forget about the high expectations of the coaching staff, and engage in a social life that I often missed because of the coach’s curfew rules. But Emma is not me. She is willing to do whatever it takes to get back out there so she can support her teammates and get back out on the field. I am so proud.

Let me reiterate the fact that I'm not happy that Emma has a concussion. But, I sure am going to marvel in the blessings that have come from it!

2 Responses

  1. I love your writing Steph, and you do have a very special girl!!
    • Stephanie Lefler
      Thank you for reading it!!!!

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