Two weeks ago we took a trip to San Diego so my husband could attend a conference and Eli and I could play by the ocean. On the last day we were there, I was hanging out in our hotel room, trying to keep Eli awake just a little while longer when it happened. We were sitting on the hotel bed, I bent over to get his pacifier and before I could blink, Eli hit the floor head first.
It was apparent from the moment of the injury that he wasn’t okay. He couldn’t hold his head up, wouldn’t open his eyes, and was moaning in pain. We ended up going to a local children’s hospital by ambulance, which is a situation I never thought we’d be in. Once at the hospital, they looked at Eli’s head and neck, took a neck x-ray and said he was fine, but that he might have a sore neck. We were told that kids fall off furniture all the time and to not worry, just give him some Motrin and he’d be okay.
But he wasn’t.
Later that day, Eli began profusely vomiting and having trouble staying awake. We went to a different hospital where a CT scan showed that he had a subdural hematoma. It’s a fancy way of saying that he was bleeding on his brain. It’s true that kids fall off beds and changing tables every day and the majority of them are fine, but my son got much more than a bump on the head- he got a mild traumatic brain injury. Since being discharged from the hospital last week he’s had a few mild seizures and continues to vomit periodically, but thankfully, he’s otherwise pretty much back to normal. We were lucky.
Thankfully we knew when to return to the hospital because this particular injury, and several other types of head injuries, have a high rate of morbidity and mortality when left untreated. In light of what we learned, I thought I’d share a few signs that you should take very seriously when it comes to head injuries in people of all ages so that hopefully none of you face that period of uncertainty that we did.
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It goes without saying that another big part of this is to be incredibly careful on high surfaces or avoiding them all together with small children. Eli’s injury happened in the blink of an eye and I was within inches of him at the time. Keep your babies off high beds and strap them into the changing table whenever possible. Never leave babies unattended on any surface off the floor unless they’re buckled in, and even then, only if they’re within view.