Ellison Hartley’s Concussion Story
I have had 5 diagnosed concussions and 3 o 4 undiagnosed concussions with my longest recovery being 12 months or more.
I’m a horse trainer and riding instructor. I was helping a student with her pony before a lesson when the pony reared up, hit me right in the front of the head, which knocked me back into the metal stall bars on the door behind me. I lost consciousness for about 5 minutes. I went to the ER right away of course. They sent me home and aside from nausea and a killer migraine, I was okay. It wasn’t until three days later that I started falling, not being able to balance myself and experiencing vertigo. I’m still recovering almost a year later.
I’m under a doctor’s care in a TBI program, I see a neuro-ophthalmologist, neuropsychologist and of course PT twice per week. I’m not able to balance to walk without a walker and I have had a headache non-stop since the day of the accident. It has been almost a year, and I’m slowly getting better and better but it has been an incredibly hard and frustrating process.
I have just tried to stay positive as best I can, tried not to isolate myself from friends and family even when I really would rather be alone. Learning to accept new normals and celebrate small victories have been a big part of my recovery. I have learned to live with gratitude, and have a new perspective on a lot of things. I have found that journaling and writing, in general, has helped me cope. Starting my blog has given me a new sense of purpose which has really helped my mental state.
What Has Been the Most Frustrating Aspect of Your Recover?
Emotionally, the worst part is the fact that recovery is not a linear process, it has been one up and down after another. It is very hard because people that haven’t experienced TBI or PCS just can’t understand what it’s like. I have learned to accept that and to take it day by day and look for the small victories when you are in the “trenches” recovering, it is hard to see your progress. I have learned to look for small victories and silver linings in each day.
What I Would Have Done Differently
Knowing what I know now, I would have rested for the few days after my last accident even though I didn’t feel all that awful. I got worse over time and developed post-concussive syndrome. Also since I wasn’t riding the horse myself I didn’t have a helmet on. I have a new perspective of safety around horses and now think helmets are just as important when you are working with horses on the ground as when you are riding.
Advice I Would Give To Others
Learn to look for small victories, keep a journal so on your bad days you can look back and see how far you have come. As much as you may want to don’t isolate yourself from friends and family. Even though they may not understand what you are going through they do care about you and support you. Take it day by day and live with gratitude. This experience is making me a stronger better person, if you can stay positive and grateful you will be a better person in the end. It is like a involuntary character building exercise!
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