Stephanie Everett’s Concussion Story
I am a 21 year old from Silver Spring, MD and currently attend Dartmouth College.
|Sport||Years Played||Highest Level|
I have had 3 diagnosed and I believe 1 more undiagnosed concussions with my longest recovery being more than 12 months.
In the two years I played college soccer at Dartmouth College, I never saw the field during the regular season. As a goalkeeper, and the team’s only walk-on, I knew the road would be long, and I set about working towards perfection. Unfortunately, mild concussions from balls to the head stopped this pursuit during both my freshman and sophomore preseasons. Add to this a concussion from high school baseball during my senior year, and I was up to three head injuries in less than two years. Every time I got hit, I felt fine and continued playing. The next morning, though, I would feel intense pressure in my head and would know something was wrong. All three times, I insisted on going back to play when I felt good enough, not one hundred percent good. Eventually, pain started spreading from my neck to my forehead and I was having trouble in school. Six months into recovery, I thought I’d get better any moment. A year into recovery, I was 10 doctors in and starting to lose hope. A year and a half in, I had tried medication, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, physical therapy, and steroids – but my symptoms only seemed to be getting worse. By year two, I was starting to struggle with anxiety and depression that, no doubt, flourished under the constant pain, isolation, and inability to exercise. My entire schedule – everything I was used to – was upended, and I became so aware of how much I had taken my health for granted in the past. Through all of this, though, I have learned to be more compassionate and aware of the invisible struggles we are all going through. I’ve turned to acting and playwriting as an outlet, and plan to pursue it full-time after graduation. My one woman show, “It’s Fine, I’m Fine” details my story with PCS, and I hope to take it to colleges around the US to raise awareness for Traumatic Brain Injury and PCS.
Symptoms I experienced through my recovery included headaches, sensitivity to light, feeling like I was “in a fog”, more emotional, nervous or anxious, pressure in the head, neck pain, feeling slowed down, didn’t feel right, difficulty concentrating, difficulty remembering and trouble falling asleep.
Emotionally, the most frustrating aspect of my injury/recovery was not being able to participate in daily life as I used to.
What I Would Have Done Differently
I wouldn’t have rushed to get back into the game. It’s so hard to think about the long-term when you’re disappointed and injured in the present. I felt pressure from coaches, teammates, and myself to return as quickly as possible.
Advice I Would Give To Others
Look for the silver linings. There is always a positive to come out of the setbacks. For me, it was finding the path I was meant to be on towards acting and activism. I am still hurting, but I’ve proved to myself that I am stronger than I ever imagined possible.
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