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What We All Need to Realize About Post-Concussion Syndrome

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During the recent Super Bowl, I feel it’s only natural that people probably talked more about and saw concussions. Someone could get a concussion during the game, and most likely people will assume that football player will heal and be back on the field soon. Maybe, or maybe they will develop post-concussion syndrome, but the media will never talk about it.

Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is when after a “normal” amount of healing time after a concussion (four weeks is max), you still experience symptoms from the concussion. Maybe your symptoms aren’t getting any better from when your concussion initially occurred. PCS can last for weeks, months, a year, and for some people they will have lingering symptoms for the rest of their life.

That’s more of the technical definition but as a patient with PCS, I’ll give you my experience. I had my initial concussion and waited everyday for the horrible headaches, migraines light sensitively, noise sensitivity, dizziness, increased anxiety, sleep issues, blurred vision, and nausea to subside.

All I could do was lie in the dark all day. I couldn’t handle my phone light, audio stimulation, nothing. Three weeks out I hadn’t made much progress and could barely read. My vision was completely disrupted from my injury. At five weeks, nothing had changed and I felt like I was living a nightmare waking up every morning with a headache while knowing all day I would just sit in the dark in pain until I would go to bed again with another headache. And, if I pushed it too hard, I would get a migraine. I couldn’t drive, let alone even go into Rite-Aid to pick up my medications because the music inside felt as though it was blaring, and the lights were so bright they came through my sunglasses burning into my head. The simple chatter and clacking of other customers made my brain hit a wall where it just stopped, and I just felt unable to move from the pain and nausea – which created an even worse pain.

The thing people don’t understand with brain injuries is that unlike a broken ankle, it’s hard to just rest it. Even sitting in the dark or sleeping isn’t resting your brain completely. It still needs to be functioning at some level all the time to keep you alive.

Doctors don’t even really understand post-concussion syndrome very well. Specialists can’t even tell me when exactly my brain is done healing and all they can say is it “most likely will get better, but we don’t know when it could be.” This has left me feeling completely hopeless not knowing when I would get my life back. It’s been 7 months and I still can’t watch TV or go into a store.

The truth of the matter is there is treatment, it’s just very specific to each patient and can take time. It’s hard for people to realize how changed I am by just “a simple bump to the head,” but it’s far more than that. I have a mild traumatic brain injury – and “mild” by in no ways means mild symptoms, or not life-changing.

Educate yourself and be aware as you watch the game in years to come. I am physically unable to watch it due to my “mild” traumatic brain injury.

Getty Image by dragana991

Originally published: February 28, 2018
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