During my first semester at an NCAA university, a major head injury forced me to forgo my first season as a scholarship collegiate athlete. Just as I was finishing my first semester, I was in a freak bike accident. I happened to be biking in the wrong place at wrong time and was hit head-on, completely accidentally, by another biker. After recovering in the hospital for a week and finally passing all the neurological tests, my parents took me home. This caused me to spend six months on bed rest, with no physical activity, no reading, no writing, no screens (including phone, TV and computer) and minimal social activity. I had a very serious accident but it there was no therapy or cure, and no timeline.
Sometimes I catch myself thinking that there are more positives then negatives that came from my accident. Sports defined my personality. Even though I was completely removed from my sport, and my entire life for that matter, I still had the mindset of an athlete. The recovery became the game. Although it was a game against myself, I had to win. At first, I saw winning as pretending that I wasn’t hurt. I would fight through the pain, to prove that I was tougher then the accident. Proving to everyone that I could get through anything, even if it was a skull fracture and multiple brain bleeds. As many would assume this didn’t work very well. I was unable to pass concussion tests and I was told there was no way I could go back to school or skiing with my current state.
This caused a pretty radical change in my mindset and I began a new game where the goal was seeing as many of the best doctors as possible. It was after seeing ten unrelated neurosurgeons, neuro-psychiatrists, sports medicine, physiotherapists, acupuncturists, and naturopathic doctors that I accepted that there might not be a cure for concussions. I found they know very little about them and the common response to my questions was “sleep and you‘ll get better”.
Guess what the next game was? I proceeded to try and sleep more and more each night with most of my day consisting of up to twenty hours of sleep. This is considerably easier said than done, but it really did fuel my recovery. After six months in bed and removed from all social interaction with the world, I proudly I passed all the tests and finally felt like myself again. It wasn’t until I had everything taken away from me after my accident that that I saw the raw qualities that sports play in my life. This accident was the first serious one I’d ever had and its recovery was longer than most injuries. After going months without any physical activity, I felt a strong sense of loss when my family would go to the hill to ski, or go on a hike without me. It was frankly as if nothing felt “recovered” until I participated in sports again. Thinking back on this, it’s very interesting that even though I made some of the most crucial accomplishments –such as being able to read again – long before I started any physical activity, I didn’t get a full sense of accomplishment until I was active again. There is no point in rushing back into it. That’s what I did the first two months and it just set me back. When I finally accepted the accident, I finally started to recover.
That experience changed my life. It made me better appreciate everything I have, and let me fall in love with sports all over again. The hardest part is thinking that you’re alone. You’re not, we are here to help.