My Downfall and My Triumph
My Concussion

F. M.

© Copyright 2009 by F. M. 

Photo of a clouded sunrise.

Robert Collier once stated, “All of us have bad luck and good luck. The man who persists through the bad luck who keeps right on going-is the man who is there when the good luck comes- and is ready to receive it.” I unfortunately have had many unpleasant experiences in my life and I often believe that if I did not have bad luck, I would not have luck at all. Nonetheless, I always try to see the rainbow at the end of the storm or the silver lining on every cloud even through my most trying time, my concussion that occurred on December 8, 2004 of my freshman year. Typically, concussions result in a mild headache or dizziness that lasts for a week or so and then gradually subsides. However, I was unfortunate enough to hit my head in just the right spot for a traumatic year-long brain injury, which forced me to withdraw from school for cognitive and physical therapy. Despite my feelings of anger, resentment and frustration during my recovery, I learned to adapt to my situation in the end and I kept setting new goals that I achieved and even surpassed. This progress ultimately led to my applying to Manhattanville College and transferring there after therapy.

December 8th was just a typical day in my hectic school schedule. I was a freshman at Fairfield University during this time and I had a horrible roommate who always argued with me. That night, she was arguing about how she did not like that I had a higher GPA than she did and how she was smarter. As a result of the fight, I was so upset that I reached for my cell phone to call my parents and vent to them about my roommate. I was standing at the moment and my bed was parallel to the concrete wall. In doing so, I neglected to notice my huge book bag that was perpendicular to the bed and very much of a safety hazard. I jumped into bed in a huff attempting to demonstrate my anger, which now that I think about it, I very much did. I ended tripping over my book bag, and because I jumped I propelled myself head first into the concrete wall with my body falling back against my pillow. My roommate witnessed the whole event but because she did not like me and was bitter, she did not wake me up or tell me what happened. When I came to I had an intense headache and felt mentally “foggy” and disoriented. I thought that maybe the headache was from studying too much, since it was finals week, or that possibly I hit my head somewhere, but I had no clue to what extent I was injured. That night I went to my RA who looked at my head and told me to go to sleep since she could not see any bruising. This was potentially the worst mistake I have ever made.

 The next day when I woke up, I could not walk straight and I felt like someone was physically drilling in my brain. The pain was so intense that the whole time I was holding my head to stop the pressure. I managed to go to one of my classes, Calculus, where I determined that something was truly not right. Calculus is one of my favorite subjects; I had an A in the class and even tutored my peers in the subject. When class began, I felt lost and I could understand nothing in the professor’s lecture. It was at that point that I knew I had to go to the doctor and I made my way to the Health Center. There I was given several reflex tests and the nurse made me walk in a straight line. This I failed to do and fell to the ground and began to cry. The doctor told me that I had a severe concussion and that I might not be able to take finals.

 My whole world came crashing down that day because school was my life and the doctor was still not sure if I would lose my ability to perform ordinary tasks. I went to a Sports Medicine Specialist, Dr. Lee, who dealt solely with concussion patients, even the players from the NFL. He administered an IMPACT Test which is a cognitive test to measure reflexes, basic thinking skills and memory. The average score on such a test is between 40-50% and I scored .l0%. I was so scared that I remember shaking in confusion. Dr. Lee set me aside and told me that it might be possible that I might not fully recover my memory and as a result, I might not be able to go to school. It was at that moment that I remember telling myself I would never give up hope of restoring my memory because I had a bigger picture for my life.

 One main component of my concussion was the pain; I had constant, pounding migraines every day. They were so intense at times that I curled up into a ball and just prayed for them to end. Medication was not sufficient by itself, however. Although concussions just require time to heal, I was advised to go to Burke Rehabilitation Center where I was taught memory skills, arithmetic, how to take a shower and other basic day-to-day tasks. I actually went out to buy first grade math and reading books, since I had lost the ability to do simple math and reading. I gradually gained my memory back through memory games, writing things down, quizzes and just going through books of different reading levels. By Halloween of the following year, my therapist told me I could start looking at part-time schools to see if I was ready to go back full-time. I did not want to go back to Fairfield for part-time courses because the commute was too long, so I enrolled in Manhattanville because I’d heard a lot of positive feedback from friends.

That semester, Spring 2006, I enrolled in an Introduction to Sociology and an Economics Course. I was terrified that I would fail and I lacked all confidence in my academic abilities. I gradually realized that I understood all the readings and homework and ended up earning an A in both classes. I was so ecstatic because this meant that I met my goal of continuing my education and furthering my career. I loved Manhattanville and it felt like a second home, so I applied to be a full-time student in Fall 2006 and enrolled in the same Calculus class that I had to drop in Fairfield. I did it because I wanted to prove to myself that I was fully recovered. Not only did I prove that by getting an A, but I earned a 4.0 both in the Fall and Spring semesters proving that I was officially cured and had regained all my abilities!

 In conclusion, my concussion has been by far the most unpleasant experience I have had. Despite all the time, energy, pain and frustration it caused, I learned that perseverance and determination are key to getting what one wants in life. As a result of my accident, I learned not to take anything for granted, especially simple skills such as adding and reading. I also gained more insight into my personality, understanding how much stronger and more resilient I was than I had thought. Again referring to Robert Collier, I had bad luck but I was there waiting when my luck turned around.

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