The Concussion That Changed Everything
It was just a normal day at practice, we were practicing the same drills as every other 3–4 practices we had per week. We were on a 2–2 drill and as my partner and I went on to attack the ball that was being thrown up in the air, she ended up jumping in front of me. When she tried to hit the ball, the momentum of the back of her head hit me straight in the nose. All I remember is seeing black, stars and waking up on the ground, my nose gushing blood.
I went to the local urgent care not really knowing the severity of this accident. They told me that my nose was broken and that I would have to go see a specialist within the next few days to get it fixed. The doctor also said that I probably suffered a concussion. I got orders to rest. After he asked me some questions and further tests were done, he came to the conclusion that I had cracked the front of my skull. Some cerebrospinal fluid had been leaking from one of my nostrils since the accident but stopped a few days later.
The following year and a half were some of the hardest times of my life and still to this day I see the impact this one event has brought me.
The Painful Journey of Rehabilitation
From not being able to finish grade 9, to having to be home schooled for more than half of grade 10, the struggles kept coming. I went to see a number of specialists to try to fix my constant headaches, neck and back pains resulting from the impact of the accident. I tried physiotherapy, massage therapy, osteopathy, and acupuncture, went to see a concussion specialist, neurologist and the list went on.
Back when my accident happened, concussions were so misunderstood from a medical standpoint and the tools were limited. I was lucky enough to be able to go see a sports specialist about 7 months after my concussion. By this time, I was still sleeping 16+ hours a day, having constant headaches, neck/back pains, balance issues, mood swings and overall never got back to the person I used to be before the accident. I wasn’t able to concentrate for more than a few minutes before becoming so exhausted that I would have to return to bed.
When I visited the sports doctor, she made me do a test called SCAT (Standardized concussion assessment tool). Even 7 months in, I couldn’t remember 5 words and repeat them a few minutes later, I couldn’t close my eyes standing up without losing balance and falling. It was nice knowing that she studied these types of injuries and I felt a little more understood but many doctors were dismissing my symptoms. That was really frustrating as I knew deep down I was not back to my baseline.
For me, one of the most frustrating things was that I “looked” okay, except for when I had 2 massive black eyes right after it happened. I would see friends or people that I knew and often times the sentence “well, you look fine” would come up. There’s no words to express how much that sentence bothered me because I wasn’t fine and in fact I was the total opposite of fine. I was not the positive, lively girl that was always looking to conquer challenges either in sports or at school.
I eventually and gradually started school. It was hard and I never saw high school as being difficult before. It was like my brain was on a different speed, receiving and retaining information way slower. Before the accident, I was pretty good in mathematics but after I returned, everything was taking me so much more effort and concentration to understand simple concepts. I could still only concentrate for a small period at a time. I was very grateful to have amazing friends and teachers who would take extra time to explain and simplify things for me. I would even get more time to write my tests, exams and would get them on different coloured papers to facilitate concentration and help with the headaches.
Still to this day, I see the impact that this concussion has had on me. I am very lucky to have grown to the extent that I have, ending up going to university and graduating as a Registered Nurse.
Advice for Concussion Sufferers
My advice is not to take any concussion lightly, the end results accumulate. This big hit was added to my list of a few minor ones I’ve had before. I still continued to play soccer competitively but soon realized that my health was so much more important than this beautiful team sport. I still suffer from headaches and back/neck pains but manage them on a daily basis. They just remind me that I am lucky to have recovered the way I have.
This blog post in an amended version of the original post by Alixe Faubert: http://behindbohemianeyes.com/how-soccer-changed-my-life/
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