Why Concussions Need to be Taken Seriously- My Story

I found the need to discuss this topic because it really hits close to home. Concussions are sudden blows or jolts to the head that literally cause your brain to move or shake inside of your skull. They are considered one of the more “mild” brain injuries, but if you do not allow yourself to recover properly or start receiving multiple concussions, you are in for a serious awakening.

Concussion #1- Age seven was my first ever concussion. Not something to brag about as your brain is still developing at that age. I was enrolled in gymnastics and placed in an advanced group, where we learnt some scary tricks at a young age. I was doing “giants”, which are handstands around and around the high bar. My hands slipped off in the middle of it, sending me flying past the matts, hitting my head on the concrete wall then on the floor. Fortunately I was only knocked out for a couple seconds and was sent to the hospital with a giant goose egg on my head. The only thing I remember was having to walk on a straight line, getting a popsicle and not being allowed to sleep that night.

Concussion #2- Next concussion came from playing hide and go seek. I decided that hiding on the shed roof was a great idea. I didn’t realize that getting down would be such a difficult task, in my case detrimental. Off of the roof I jumped, fell backwards and smoked my noggin on a tree stump. It was lights out for me. When I woke up I didn’t tell anyone what happened because climbing up onto a roof would have probably gotten me into some serious trouble.

Concussion #3,4 & 5 – Ahh the life of a cheerleader. I cheered for a CFL team for 3 years. Every year, even if your team didn’t make the Grey Cup, all CFL cheerleaders travel for the weeklong festivities leading up to the Grey Cup. Our routines were usually ten minutes long and performed up to 7 times a day. This is including 5 am wake up times and not sleeping the whole week. At a 2005 cheer extravaganza performance in Vancouver, I had went to do my backflips, ended up slipping because I was wearing dance shoes and fell right on my head. I got up right away, completely off balance but finished the routine…. I ignored my concussion symptoms all weekend and continued to perform. Here is actual video footage of the performance. If you watch the left side of the screen really close in the last 50 seconds you can catch my epic fall.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nGNVjtaLDtU

2006 Grey Cup was in Winnipeg. (Yes you are going to see a pattern here). We were throwing one of the girls in the air and she came down pretty hard, while giving me a soccer boot to the head. Once again ignoring my brain fog, headaches, slow cognitive function and continued on performing for that week.

2007 Grey Cup. (Yes I’m totally serious) After a long couple days of performing you could tell it was doing a number on our bodies. We had an early morning performance and I was the one getting thrown around this time. I was supposed to get thrown, do a front flip and get caught. Somewhere in between the tiredness, noise and miscommunication I went for the flip without being thrown and was dropped right on my face. That performance I had to be carried out, but it didn’t stop me from performing on the field Grey Cup Day cheering our team on.

Concussion # 6. Yes, by this one I was completely aware that I should be placed in a bubble. This concussion was two years ago when I already had my health issues etc. My mom and I were in the Wal-Mart parking lot killing time before my car appointment. It was an extremely windy day… I went to open my car door but the wind decided to help me out a bit. Smack car door in the head, cut on my eye brow and immediate dizziness. My mom drove to the car appointment where I ended up passing out and having to take the ambulance to the hospital. This time I really felt the impact of my cumulative concussions. My symptoms took nearly two months to disappear and I literally felt so dumbed down, I had a hard time comprehending anything and slept the days away.

This is where it gets scary. My seven years of health problems basically started after my cheerleading concussions. The excessive day time sleepiness, anxiety, migraines, lack of concentration, memory issues etc etc etc. I’ve been recently diagnosed with Idiopathic Hypersomnia pointing towards Narcolepsy. Well guess what a main cause is…. Concussions!!!

See the problem with concussions is that they are cumulative. Meaning, the more you get the damage literally adds up. Also it’s easier to get them after you have had a couple and the progression of your symptoms are far more severe. They are invisible!!!!! You don’t need a mark on your head or to be knocked unconscious to get one. Your symptoms and effects may not start showing up until later on in life. There has been many athletes that end up with some serious brain issues after retirement and have no help or clue as to why their health and mental health deteriorated.

Do yourself a favour if you haven’t already. Watch the movie “Concussion” starring Will Smith. It will open your eyes on how serious of an issue Concussions are and hopefully will help those to take certain precautions to avoid them or get the proper care that you need if you are being affected by them. Presently there are post concussion clinics available, which I feel is a huge step in the right direction for helping those who are suffering in silence or a battle that they don’t understand.

To all those suffering with post concussion syndrome or brain injuries you are not alone and everything that you feel is real. Keep fighting the fight, you are stronger than you believe. ❤️

Love,

Crystal

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