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June 21, 2003

Splitting Headache

I'd had some wine with dinner. "Somewhere between moderate drinking and completely blotted," as I explained to the doctor. Lilian and I took advantage of last weekend's Patio Improvement Project, and sat out till midnight. It started to get dark about ten, and I used the rope light in earnest for the first time; it's much, much nicer than the security light that previously provided all our ambient outdoor lighting. When we reorganised the study, we freed up a pair of active computer speakers. I plugged in the iPod, set it on 'random', and we had music. "It's just like a party!" declared Lilian. Followed quickly by "you should have a party". True enough, and we're thinking about dates. It was a beautiful evening.

I walked through the living room on my way up to bed, and turned round for some reason. Stepping backwards, I tripped over the rocking dolphin, fell backwards, and hit the side of my head against the fireplace. Or the grate. I'm not sure. And then I lay on the floor for a bit, reeling. Steven asked me if I was all right. I lifted my head just long enough to decide that I had better put it down again if I wasn't going to faint, and to notice that it was dripping on the floor.

Now, I remember from my brother's childhood that even quite minor head injuries produce startlingly much blood. But it's different when it's your blood coagulating in pools. I comforted myself with the traditional unguent of the fan editor: "At least I will get a fanzine article out of this." After a couple of minutes it stopped bleeding so much.

Of course, we went to casualty, leaving Lilian asleep in charge of the kids. I made several bids for freedom; first arguing that it wasn't really bad enough to take to casualty, then asking the receptionist if there was any point staying. An hour later, when we saw the triage nurse, I asked if I could go home and sleep, and come back in the morning if I needed stitches. The answer was clear; my head injury was serious enough that I couldn't go home without seeing a doctor, but trivial enough that they were going to deal with everybody else in the room first.

Friday nights are traditionally exciting at Whipps Cross A&E; but in fact, it was entirely calm and I was well-looked after. The only thing that would have improved my visit, apart from being treated more quickly, would have been some means of lying down. I really, really wanted to lie down.

By about 4:30, the crowd had thinned out, and I saw a doctor, who checked far more things than I'd have thought of, sent me for a skull x-ray, ordered me stitched up, and sent me home. We were home by six.

Just in time, in fact, for the children to wake up, excited at the prospect of going to Marianne's school "Fun Run"; a more peaceful, lower-stress version of a Sports Day. Steven was, astonishingly, even more shattered than me; so I took them. I instructed Marianne on what to do if I suddenly keeled over, showed her the Head Injury aftercare card the hospital had given me, and walked slowly around the fair, mustering all the delight I could in the bran tubs, tuppence rolls, ping pong ball tosses and duck hooks.

Posted by Alison Scott at June 21, 2003 07:03 PM

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Let me be the first to make the traditional remark about the bit on the head injury card that says "If you observe any unusual behaviour...". Well, in fact, it's not even worth saying it, so I won't.

Posted by: David at June 21, 2003 08:14 PM

Well done (particularly for suffering the school sports day, that's parental duty above and beyond the call of duty). I've nearly tripped several times in that place, particularly at the top of the stairs.
I suspect it's the ghostly revenge of all those little mousies you squished the heads of in that study.

Posted by: Sue M at June 24, 2003 12:54 PM

Even if there'd been a place for you to get a nap, they wouldn't have let you do it. It's contraindicated for patients who may have concussions.

Posted by: Teresa Nielsen Hayden at July 24, 2003 08:50 AM

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