Concussion from a simple slip
I am one of those people that can see the point of Health and Safety at work, but recognises that particularly in the UK there is an increase of unnecessary rules made up in the name of health and safety. Most of these are due to insurers and companies in fear that they could get sued over these things.
The following story is however an account where "an oversight" could have a lasting impact on someone for some considerable time. In my opinion this was an accident - and whilst there could have been a case to pursue, no action was taken.
I am writing this in order to demonstrate how a simple slip or fall could have a lasting effect and how these should not be underestimated.
On a cold January morning, about 2 years ago now, I set out for a meeting. It was not going to be a long meeting, just about an hour. There had been a heavy snow fall, a few weeks earlier and there was state of the roads were fine. The pavements how were not great and it was very icy.
I arrived at my destination and parked in the grounds of my employer. The ground underfoot had that bumpy ice, so I took care when getting from my car to the gravel.
I then successfully had my meeting with my line manager. On making my way back to my car was when it happened.... I slipped.
Quick as a flash my legs went into the air and my head hit the ice and concrete with force. My glasses went flying off my face and my first thought was "You Fool, did anyone see that?"
Fortunately for me, someone did and came running to my aid. I on the other hand was embarrassed and just wanted to get out of there. A manager was informed and they came running out to help.
An accident report had to be written, so I had to go back inside. Whilst this was a case of me slipping on ice, I was on private land and the ground had not been salted. (This is where I could have had a case.) Someone made me a cup of tea as I answered the questions on the report. It soon became clear I was in shock.
Being a mum, I was more concerned that it was time for me to collect the kids soon and I needed to be elsewhere. It was agreed that my manager would drive me home and a colleague would drive my car home.
I got home and assured my colleagues that it was only 2 hours until my husband was home and that it should be okay. My childminder had picked my daughter up from school when I informed her of my accident, and then brought my son and daughter home.
After a few hours, I was still dazed and disorientated and was fairly convinced I had concussion. A trip to the A + E confirmed my suspicions. My husband was warned not to leave me alone for 48 hours and I was given drugs for the pain. My husband took the days off and agreed with his employer to do a little work from home. Within 2 - 3 days I started to get back to normal but not quite.
NOT the end of the story...
Three months after the event I started getting headaches. I hate going to the doctor unnecessarily, so after about 10 days I went to the GP. I was given strong pain killers and told if symptoms continue to come back. They did. In fact they got worse, I felt like I had a constant headache above my eye and the painkillers were having little to no effect. So I went back to the GP. The second GP I saw was not that good at listening. He dismissed my symptoms despite me saying that headaches were uncharacteristic for me. He even suggested that my kids (6 and 2 at the time) may just be stressing me out. I left the surgery feeling not listened to and deflated. I felt rather frustrated.
Over the weekend, things got worse. By Monday I was convinced I had to go back and not take no for an answer. My headache had been almost constant for 3 weeks.
My third visit had a completely different reaction. My GP said these headaches could be as a direct result of my accident. The worse case would be a clot of some kind and I was told to call by husband at work to come and get me and take me to hospital. If my husband could not come the doctor would phone for an ambulance and get them come to get me immediately.
Whilst I was happy that I was not being dismissed, the reaction from my GP did slightly worry me. I had to go to CDU with a letter. I had a CT scan and to my surprise I was admitted for further clarification.
I have epilepsy. I was diagnosed in the USA in the early 1980's before CT scans. Due to the mildness of my epilepsy I have never had a CT scan. So this was my first scan. What they found was that I have an atrophy in my brain. It has always been there and would certainly explain my epilepsy. Due to this atrophy, I probably suffered more trauma than most to fall of this type because I have less white matter than the average person.
I live a full and active live , you would never know the difference. The abnormality however meant that I had to stay in just in case. The next few hours were horrible as I did not know 100% whether there was anything sinister. Whilst it was thought unlikely, we had to wait a few hours for the all clear.
The end result was that I was diagnosed with post concussive syndrome. I also had a whip lash injury to my neck that had been undetected. I was told symptoms could last 2 years. With this anniversary coming up I can say it is far less than it was but I still suffer minor pain in my skull at the site of impact on cold days.
I am quite often seen with a hat these days. All this from a slip on ice.
Things to consider
Some people had no idea why for months I struggled to have a normal life. People tend to think concussion is a minor thing, I know I did not fully appreciate the pain and effects it can have prior to this.
I could perhaps have made a claim but did not. I am a casual worker, so I had no specific contract. I can take work or not. I don't get sick pay. The question I asked was is it worth it. I certainly took less work as I was not up to it. Some short shifts I could do. Did I really want to challenge my current employer and risk losing my job given the current climate? My point is that others may have done.
My previous knowledge of concussion was that it was a short lasting condition. I had no idea that there could be lasting effects. During the course of these months, I have had a lot of people not understand. If you call it a head injury, people think you are over dramatising it. However even post concussion syndrome is not understood.
I hope this helps you understand a little bit better that a slip on ice can be more serious than you think.
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