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My concussion experience

Marissa, Roe
Originally published December 17, 2013

Physical therapy, massage therapy, biofeedback, chiropractic treatment, MRI, acupuncture. Endless hours in doctors’ offices looking for a solution. I’ve tried them all with limited success.

I sustained a concussion my freshman year on Jan. 5, 2011 during a basketball game at Skyline when I went up for a rebound against a girl who was a solid eight inches taller, losing the battle for the ball before falling and landing on the back of my head. It was my third concussion, each one about one year apart.

I couldn’t sleep that night and woke up the next morning with such a bad headache I needed to stay home from school.

The athletic trainers and doctors I saw in the days following the concussion all told me it was just a minor concussion, but the symptoms persisted: pressure headache, sensitivity to noise and light, and feeling like I lived in a fog.

At first I just played it off as another concussion, thinking it would go away in a few weeks at most. However, my symptoms persisted for more than 11 months before I was cleared for competition again, but I had already missed out on track and cross country.

Playing sports again after 11 months felt foreign; I grew up with sports being what my world revolved around, but returning never felt the same. At the end of the season I decided it was best to quit basketball because, being a contact sport, the risk of getting another concussion was too high. It was never the situation I thought I would find myself in and it was hard to swallow at first.

It was hard to enjoy sports coming back. I was too hard on myself to perform as athletically as I had before, but physically it wasn’t possible and I beat myself up over it.

In October of 2012, 10 months after I was cleared, my symptoms returned with no explanation. I didn’t suffer another concussion, but the same pressure headaches returned and since then haven’t gone away. Though I’ve still helped out on both cross country and track, I haven’t competed in more than a year. It didn’t sink in for a while what this meant; it was, and some days still is, hard to wrap my mind around having to go through this battle again of fighting off daily headaches and missing out on what I once loved.

Very few days go by without getting some type of headache; some days are more debilitating than others. On some occasions it hurts so bad the only option is to go lie down in a dark room.

I’ve gone months on end multiple times without being able to exercise because the onset of a headache comes on within steps of starting to run. And I had to increase my physical activity in baby steps, running only 50 meters the first day and having weeks go by before improving enough to run a lap around the track.

It’s been frustrating spending so much time trying everything to make me better and having little success. I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster and it’s impossible to know what the next turn will be.

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My concussion experience