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How a single concussion changed my life

Updated: Feb 10




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.


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 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.


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Silvie van de Ree

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