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My concussion story: One moment I was driving on my scooter happily back home and the next moment I know I was on the floor disorientated about what had just happened. My entire world has changed in just a second. At that moment, I thought I was lucky because my ankle was the only place that was hurting. I then went home, not knowing how I have just stepped into my new life from then on.
During the first year, I didn’t know what was going on with me. I didn’t fall on my head so that couldn’t be a concussion right? But it turned out, yes, it was indeed a concussion. I have later learned that from whiplash, you have a possibility to sustain a concussion as well. All this time, I felt something was wrong but no one could address my symptoms.
After that year, I finally ended up at a doctor who knew what was going on with me. I was happy but worried at the same time. I was happy because I could look more specifically for the help I needed but worried as well because it’s such a complex injury and even doctors don’t know how to fix it.
I never knew how concussions could impact my life. Of course, I have heard about people who suffered from concussions but it was always only for a short period of time. When it comes to the term “post-concussion syndrome”, it was even more unfamiliar to me. Studies show that 30% of concussion patients suffer from post-concussive symptoms.
In the first week after my accident, I tried to act as normal as I could.
I went to work, continued my busy social life, and worked out. I just pretended I was okay but that was only temporary. But I knew, I felt, there was something wrong with me, and deep inside, I panicked about it.
I didn’t tell anyone around me because if I had told them about the situation, it would have made my symptoms looked real. Instead, I could just ignore them then.
Though it was until that night, I couldn’t ignore them anymore. I lived with two friends. One night, we were going to go to a birthday party together but I just broke out in tears before we were heading off.
They told me to just take some rest and that everything would be okay. I believed it, went to bed, and slept for hours. The week after that, I wasn’t able to do anything, even the normal daily activities were hard for me to handle. My head couldn’t manage it and I felt so emotional not even knowing why. Days of recovery turned into months and months turned into years.
I had to quit my job
Which required me to sit in the office behind a computer because my eyes couldn’t handle it anymore. I decided I should focus on my health completely because without your health you can go nowhere.
I left my job and decided to travel to Asia to step out of this concussion bubble and escape the busy life in Amsterdam for the rest I need. I was so nervous. On the day before my flight to Bali, I was worrying if I could manage such a long flight and soaking up all the new impressions. But I didn’t want to stay at home so I left anyway. Yes, the flight was long. I got heavy jetlag and I had to rest the entire first week.
Curious how this trip went? Read my other blog: "Flying with a concussion, how I prepared for my first long trip to Bali".
After the first week, I felt a bit better, less stressed but of course, my symptoms were still there. Secretly, I hoped a miracle would happen during my travels and all the symptoms would just go away.
But unfortunately, it didn’t work like that. After 6 months in Asia, I felt like I needed to go home but I was dreading it too. What should I do at home? How would my life be? Should I look for a job? Could I work? What about my social obligations? Could I manage them? During my last month in Asia, I was thinking about what to do with everything.
I started to look for therapies again and in the end
I ended up talking to someone who had a concussion as well and got treatment in America. I researched a lot about this (alternative) therapy: Cognitive Fx in Utah. I decided I should take the risk because I didn’t want my life to be like this forever. I had to wait for 4 months and after those 4 months, I flew to Utah.
It felt so great to be there, surrounded by other people and doctors who understood your symptoms completely. The therapy was hard but manageable, though most importantly, I felt like it worked. I learned everything about interval training and cognitive exercises.
I know this treatment is very expensive and to make it more accessible I created two courses to help others reduce their symptoms too: 5-week cognitive training & 7-day interval training.
I wasn’t healed for 100% after the treatment but it was the start of my recovery. Back home, I continued with eye therapy, and even now after more than 3,5 years, I still have the symptoms. I am still recovering and making progress over time. I can say I am healed for 75% and I am so grateful for that.
My life may not be what I have expected it to be like but...
The fact is I wouldn’t change any of it. My concussion has taught me so much and I look at the world differently right now. Of course, I would be lying if I say I didn’t have moments where I missed the old me and my old life.
Though I want to look forward instead of lingering in the moments in the past. Grieving is a process that takes time and you can’t rush it even if you wanted to. Even if you don’t feel great about it now, gratitude will come in the end.
Curious about my full concussion story? Click here.
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