26

Ken’s Head

I’d planned to finish up the script for the second issue of Blood Bowl: Killer Contract this weekend, but I had to deal with something else instead. I coach indoor soccer at the local Y for my three youngest sons: Pat, Nick, and Ken. Normally, the worst trauma of the day involves kids whining about where I ask them to play. This Saturday, though, was far worse

(My apologies for writing about this here, but I need to get it down and out of my own head somehow. Skip it if you like. If it must bear upon writing or my career—which is what this site is mostly about—consider it a point about how impossible it is to plan for the way life can screw up your best-laid plans.)


Just as the game was about to end, a kid on the other team shoved Ken as they were going for the ball. Ken fell over and smacked his head on the tiled wall. I was on the converted basketball court with them, less than 10 yards away, and I saw the whole thing.

I heard Ken’s forehead hit the wall, and I knew it would be bad. He turned over as he fell, and I could already see the red split in his forehead. It looked like an empty socket for a third eye. Then, as he landed, he rolled over onto his knees.

I dashed over and slid to a sit, then scooped him into my lap and turned him over, cradling him in my arms. It wasn’t a clean cut. The impact looked to have shoved some of the skin up under the wound, making it gape. I put my hand over the wound to stop the bleeding—head wounds always bleed like crazy—and hugged him to me to comfort him.

There are few things less fun than trying to stop your kid’s bleeding with your bare hands. The team at the Y did a good job of clearing the court and helping me with the first aid right away, giving me a wet towel to use instead of my hand. Ann was downstairs watching Helen’s gymnastics class with Marty. The ref ran down to get them while the Y’s sports coordinator taped a rectangle of gauze over Ken’s injury.
By this time, though, the bleeding had mostly stopped. Ken didn’t cry much at all. After shouting in pain for a bit, he stopped to tell me, “It hurts, Daddy. A lot.”
I took Ken to the ER while Ann gathered up the other kids, minus Helen, who she sent to play with a friend. After I got him checked in, she showed up, and we swapped out. She helped him through the stitches while I brought the other boys to a fundraiser at a local department store at which Marty was scheduled to sell coupons. This benefitted KFAD (Kids Fun and Drama), the children’s acting troupe he trains with.

While Marty charmed the customers, Pat and Nick wanted to pick out a toy for Ken, so we wandered around the store until we found something right. This ended up being a Superman action figure in a toy spaceship, plus a cheetah Beanie Baby, which they knew he would love.

After that, we raced off to Marty’s indoor soccer game, which was thankfully injury free. With all that done, we drove back to the ER and found Ann and Ken pulling away as we scooted in. We all stopped, and Ann told me that Ken had taken six stitches across his forehead and been as brave as she could have hoped about it.

When we got back home, we fed the kids. Ken threw up straight after, and the flesh under his stitches goose-egged out. After a quick call to the ER, I bundled him back into the car and headed there again.

The PA (physician’s assistant) hemmed and hawed about it for a while but eventually ordered a CT scan to rule out any internal bleeding. No one likes to irradiate a child without a good reason, but it looked like we had one here. Ken fell asleep before we got to the scanner and didn’t even rouse as I put him into and pulled him out of the machine.

The results came back negative: no problems. Ken clearly had a minor concussion, but we could treat that at home.

Ken still couldn’t keep down even water, so Ann and I had him sleep on an air mattress in our room that night. He started throwing up again at 4 AM—and a couple times later that night—apparently unable to keep down even the saliva he’d swallowed while sleeping.

Sunday morning, Ken felt better. He kept down some Pedialyte (Gatorade for sick kids) and a Pedialyte popsicle, then fell asleep again for most of the afternoon. That evening, he ate well and was back to his old self.

This morning, Ken went to school with everyone else. Other than a nifty set of stitches, he seems fine. He’s one tough kid, and I couldn’t be prouder of him—or happier that he’s all right.

Comments 26

  1. My oldest, Connor, had a head injury scare last month that involved an ER visit and CT scan, and although I wasn’t on-site when it happened I can completely empathize with feeling helpless. I’m glad he’s recovering and that it wasn’t worse than it was.

  2. My oldest, Connor, had a head injury scare last month that involved an ER visit and CT scan, and although I wasn’t on-site when it happened I can completely empathize with feeling helpless. I’m glad he’s recovering and that it wasn’t worse than it was.

  3. Thanks, guys!

    I’m sorry to hear about Conner, Cam. I’m glad he’s doing better too.

    Although the whole experience was traumatic for me and Ann, I’m sure it was much worse for Ken. I’ve been the kid getting the stitches, too—I’ve even had a nasty concussion—and it’s no fun at all. Still, as I told Ann last night, I’d have dived into the wall myself if it would have kept him safe, and she would have done the same.

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    Thanks, guys!

    I’m sorry to hear about Conner, Cam. I’m glad he’s doing better too.

    Although the whole experience was traumatic for me and Ann, I’m sure it was much worse for Ken. I’ve been the kid getting the stitches, too—I’ve even had a nasty concussion—and it’s no fun at all. Still, as I told Ann last night, I’d have dived into the wall myself if it would have kept him safe, and she would have done the same.

  5. When I was around 6, I ended up with 6-7 stitches in my forehead from headbutting my brother when we were jumping on the couch. Later I had 3-4 on the top of my head when I brought down some shelves onto my head as well as getting a nasty concussion from that one.

    I’m glad Ken’s doing okay. And hey, isn’t there something about chicks digging scars? (Not that any have ever really noticed much about mine…) 🙂

  6. When I was around 6, I ended up with 6-7 stitches in my forehead from headbutting my brother when we were jumping on the couch. Later I had 3-4 on the top of my head when I brought down some shelves onto my head as well as getting a nasty concussion from that one.

    I’m glad Ken’s doing okay. And hey, isn’t there something about chicks digging scars? (Not that any have ever really noticed much about mine…) 🙂

  7. that is so scary about Ken, but am really glad he is OK and on the mend and pray for his continued recovery. I don’t have kids yet but can imagine how scary that must have been.

  8. that is so scary about Ken, but am really glad he is OK and on the mend and pray for his continued recovery. I don’t have kids yet but can imagine how scary that must have been.

  9. Matt,

    Thank you very much for sharing this with us out here in the internet.

    I have been trying for a few minutes to find the perfect thing to say to help you deal with the panic and worry you feel/felt, but the words always seem trite.

    I hope that Ken’s recovery is swift and that this doesn’t dissuade him from participating in more soccer games. Kids are resilient, but that doesn’t mean we don’t worry about them. My twin girls won’t even be born for a couple of weeks yet, and I am in a near state of catatonia from worry.

    The religious person in me prays for your family and the skeptic in me wants to let you know I sympathize.

    Now to finish SeanMike’s thought:
    “Pain Heals, Chicks dig scars, Glory lasts forever.”

    I will now weep for quoting a Keanu Reeves movie, and weep for enjoying it enough to be able to quote it.

  10. Matt,

    Thank you very much for sharing this with us out here in the internet.

    I have been trying for a few minutes to find the perfect thing to say to help you deal with the panic and worry you feel/felt, but the words always seem trite.

    I hope that Ken’s recovery is swift and that this doesn’t dissuade him from participating in more soccer games. Kids are resilient, but that doesn’t mean we don’t worry about them. My twin girls won’t even be born for a couple of weeks yet, and I am in a near state of catatonia from worry.

    The religious person in me prays for your family and the skeptic in me wants to let you know I sympathize.

    Now to finish SeanMike’s thought:
    “Pain Heals, Chicks dig scars, Glory lasts forever.”

    I will now weep for quoting a Keanu Reeves movie, and weep for enjoying it enough to be able to quote it.

  11. I’m glad to hear he’s alright. (And I won’t even make any comments about him obviously inheriting your thick skull.) 😉

    I tend to get laughs or angry looks when I say this, but: kids bounce. Whether it’s God or evolution, something designed them to be able to handle situations and injuries that would have us adults out of commission for days. From the sounds of it, he’s just like his dad; he’s not going to let anything take him out for long–and I’m sure he’s going to be back on the soccer field next week.

    And, yeah.. Scars are manly. He’s going to be a hero around school for a while, showing off his stitches with pride.

  12. I’m glad to hear he’s alright. (And I won’t even make any comments about him obviously inheriting your thick skull.) 😉

    I tend to get laughs or angry looks when I say this, but: kids bounce. Whether it’s God or evolution, something designed them to be able to handle situations and injuries that would have us adults out of commission for days. From the sounds of it, he’s just like his dad; he’s not going to let anything take him out for long–and I’m sure he’s going to be back on the soccer field next week.

    And, yeah.. Scars are manly. He’s going to be a hero around school for a while, showing off his stitches with pride.

  13. Thanks again, guys.

    Honestly, as disturbing as it was, it didn’t hold a candle to the prolonged terror over the quads’ pregnancy and birth. That experience seems to have burned out my panic reflexes. When trouble happens, I just see the problem and act to fix it.

    Still, I love my kids and can’t just shrug something like this off. It bugs me more after it’s over and I have time to reflect on it than it does at the moment it happens.

    Kids are more resilient than adults, which is one reason they bounce back so fast from such things. As I write this, Ken’s playing with Pat and Nick in my office, going at it just as hard as ever. He’s fine, and that makes me fine too.

    I’ve had at least 18 stitches in my head and face myself over the years, and more in other parts, not even counting surgeries. As Blaze points out, I have a thick skull, and Ken seems to have inherited that, both for good and bad.

    Christian: Best of luck with the birth of your girls. The worrying part is natural, and in some ways it never goes away. As someone once said, having a child is like having your heart walking around outside your body. It’s miraculous and terrifying at the same time. You and your ladies are all in my thoughts, and I’m confident you’ll all be well.

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    Thanks again, guys.

    Honestly, as disturbing as it was, it didn’t hold a candle to the prolonged terror over the quads’ pregnancy and birth. That experience seems to have burned out my panic reflexes. When trouble happens, I just see the problem and act to fix it.

    Still, I love my kids and can’t just shrug something like this off. It bugs me more after it’s over and I have time to reflect on it than it does at the moment it happens.

    Kids are more resilient than adults, which is one reason they bounce back so fast from such things. As I write this, Ken’s playing with Pat and Nick in my office, going at it just as hard as ever. He’s fine, and that makes me fine too.

    I’ve had at least 18 stitches in my head and face myself over the years, and more in other parts, not even counting surgeries. As Blaze points out, I have a thick skull, and Ken seems to have inherited that, both for good and bad.

    Christian: Best of luck with the birth of your girls. The worrying part is natural, and in some ways it never goes away. As someone once said, having a child is like having your heart walking around outside your body. It’s miraculous and terrifying at the same time. You and your ladies are all in my thoughts, and I’m confident you’ll all be well.

  15. Wow, I’m glad Ken’s okay. That does sound terrifying.

    It’s interesting how panic reflexes work. Your reaction seems fairly typical, for a situation in which you can act. It’s when you can’t act, or you’re done acting, that the emotions catch up and you fall apart. It’s a good thing we’re made that way.

    My wife’s much more this way than I am. When Brandon had his knee gashed open, I couldn’t event look at it, because I didn’t _have_ to: his mom was there (and my mom too!), and they took him in to get it fixed. It’s a good thing she’s starting her new EMT job today instead of me. 🙂

  16. Wow, I’m glad Ken’s okay. That does sound terrifying.

    It’s interesting how panic reflexes work. Your reaction seems fairly typical, for a situation in which you can act. It’s when you can’t act, or you’re done acting, that the emotions catch up and you fall apart. It’s a good thing we’re made that way.

    My wife’s much more this way than I am. When Brandon had his knee gashed open, I couldn’t event look at it, because I didn’t _have_ to: his mom was there (and my mom too!), and they took him in to get it fixed. It’s a good thing she’s starting her new EMT job today instead of me. 🙂

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  18. As an uncle of 9 year old triplets, I am reliably informed that most of the time they bounce back quickly, as opposed to we 40 year old types. Good to hear it all turned out okay in the end.

  19. As an uncle of 9 year old triplets, I am reliably informed that most of the time they bounce back quickly, as opposed to we 40 year old types. Good to hear it all turned out okay in the end.

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