Injured athlete continues slow rehabilitation


December 20, 2018

I got a chance to catch up with Wahkiakum High School sophomore Beau Carlson when he attended his brother Brody’s basketball game on Tuesday night.

Carlson suffered a traumatic brain injury during a football game with Adna last September. He had his third surgery last Tuesday to reinsert the portion of his skull that had been removed during the first procedure all those months ago.

A gorgeous scar winds its way across the top of his crown. Despite some swelling, his eyes were bright and alert, and he had the healthy flush that all youth do.

“I’m feeling a lot better,” Carlson told me. “The surgery went well.”

“He’s had quite the few months,” his mother Leihanna Carlson said. “He’s doing okay.”

Since the surgery, they’ve been checking the incision for drainage, keeping an eye out for infection, and watching the swelling go down.

“He’s still got a lot of cerebral spinal fluid on the surface that will reabsorb into the body over time,” Leihanna said. “That area is still pretty angry from just the work that was done.”

Carlson pressed on his right temple to show how soft and swollen it was.

“He’s usually a lot puffier in the mornings,” Leihanna added. “His eye was pretty swollen shut after surgery, he had a pretty awful black eye before the swelling moved down to his jaw. It was nice and purple, but it’s faded.”

The medical staff warned them that the third and fourth days after surgery would be the worst. They were.

“Getting him home and comfortable always makes a world of difference,” Leihanna said.

Some bright news is that the constant pain that Carlson has lived with these past months has lessened a bit.

“You know when it becomes too much,” Leihanna said. “He gets a blank stare, but he’s adapted to feeling kind of on the achey side.”

Carlson hopes to return to school after Christmas break, but mom is still not sure what that will look like.

“It’s up in the air,” she said. “He has to do some testing in January so we know where his placement lies with classes and what he will be able to take on. He may have some short days and some instruction at home. He tires very easy. We need to see cognitively where his deficits have improved or declined. It’s been hard to know. He went from a brain injury to a very sick kid. Now that we’ve gotten through the sickness and the bone flap is back in, and he’s healing instead of just hanging in there, we will be able to see where he’s at. Right now, he definitely needs things in short, small increments with lots of rest in between.”

“So long as I’m healthy for baseball season,” Carlson grinned.

Irrepressible. Plucky. Good humored. That’s Beau.


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