Chapter Nine: Magically (In)Convenient Concussion
Because concussions are brain injuries, each one is different. Mine, for example, was mild and basically meant I had a headache for almost two weeks straight and I was sensitive to loud sounds and bright lights, but after the first hour or so I wasn’t at all confused. Symptoms can, of course, be terrifyingly bad and take a long time to subside, particularly if the patient has had repeated concussions. I am not a medical professional. I want to emphasize that the symptoms that Nick portrays in this book are not impossible—but they’re very, very unlikely. And everyone’s reactions to those symptoms are more unlikely still.
Chapter nine opens with Nick acting completely out of character, “emotional, unsteady, and volatile” (58). He continues to refuse to listen to anyone but Jenna, up to and including not being willing to lie still for the CT scan unless Jenna stays with him, her hand on his ankle. The technician does give her a lead apron thing to wear for safety, but this is still against procedure and I’d be surprised if it were allowed.
Stranger still is that since there is no internal bleeding visible on the CT scan, the doctor declares that “while Nick would seem out of sorts for at least a week, he would make a full recovery (60). That’s not just something a doctor would declare. There’d be talk about not knowing how long but probably a week or two, and that a full recovery is likely, no promises.
Nick can’t seem to remember anything, which means he’s repeating himself constantly and repeatedly asking questions. While amnesia about the injury and even some time before the injury is common, this continued trouble is not usual for a concussion. I’m surprised that the doctors aren’t concerned about this symptom. Furthermore, neither are the trainers who are around hockey injuries all the time.
The doctors say that Nick needs someone with him at all times for 48 hours, which conveniently falls to Jenna. They also say no physical or mental exertion, which is absolutely what they’d say—but they don’t say a dark room and no tv or reading, which is standard procedure for concussions. The whole point is brain rest. Not only is that not said, but when they tell Jenna she has to wake Nick every 3 hours and keep him awake for an hour, she turns the lights on and they play cards. Frankly, he shouldn’t be doing even that much.
(Let me tell you how awful it was for me to be not permitted to read for almost two weeks. ARG.)
So Nick is brought to Jenna and Ryan’s house and they take him to the guest room. He’s confused as to why he’s there and he gets cranky as soon as he sees Ryan. When he reaches the guestroom, he strips to his boxers, which upsets Jenna.
Sure, she had seen half-naked hockey players before and was used to being around them, but having one in her house—one who wasn’t her fiancé—stripped down to just his underwear, well, it just seemed… inappropriate (62 emphasis original).
Really, it seems to me that Jenna should just get over it. The man is repeating himself constantly, cranky as all heck, and suffering a traumatic brain injury. If he wants to sleep in his boxers, let him.
After Jenna has woken Nick twice to play cards, Ryan offers to do the next one. This surprises Jenna and me, too. ‘You’d do that?” is her initial response (63) and Ryan says yes, that he’s the captain and he should do this for a teammate. Ryan then asks if this’ll be what it’s like when they have kids—sharing night-time feedings and such—and declaring it good practice. His looking to the future with Jenna makes fall asleep happy.
I suspect this is meant to show readers that Ryan has good qualities so that if (when) it comes time for Jenna to choose between the two men it’s actually a bit of a quandary. But to me, this is way too little, way too late.