My 26th Birthday: The Concussion & Immediate Aftermath
It was May 13, 2018 and I was performing in a musical. In a dramatic performance of my character’s death, I hit my head on the floor. I didn’t lose consciousness, but it hurt! When I got back to the dressing room and looked in the mirror, it seemed like the world was moving. Feeling unsteady, I had a passing thought, "I wonder if I just got a concussion?” I shrugged it off and the show went on! Afterwards, I was greeted by friends and family and treated to birthday celebrations that night. The next day, I woke up feeling horrendous with pressure in my head and a raging headache. I figured it would pass and went on with my day, but driving home that night, I found myself unsteady again with light and sound sensitivity and blurry vision. In the morning, I went to see a doctor. I expressed my concerns but didn’t want to make a big deal over it. I was diagnosed with a mild concussion, told to rest and go back to work in two days.
Upon returning to work as ordered, my vision abnormalities drastically increased and a raging headache forced me to stop. That week, my unsteadiness, headache, and fogginess made life incredibly difficult as I continued trying to work and perform. Everyone around me thought my symptoms should have subsided much sooner than they did, which further alarmed me. At a subsequent visit to the emergency room, I was basically told to “take it easy because sometimes these things take time,” but assured that a brain scan wouldn’t show anything of importance. I was referred to a specialist… who was booked out for two months.
I was always the type to push through illness to continue working - I never wanted to let anyone down. The show must go on! I did everything I could to continue to work and perform for two months, but things kept getting worse and worse for my head.
Here are the issues I was dealing with:
- Headaches, pressure, fogginess in my head all the time
- Slow thinking
- Huge problems looking at laptops
- Wavy vision when looking at stationary objects
- Major light and noise sensitivity
- Balance issues
- Trouble reading
- Trouble recalling things I used to be able to recall quickly
- Feeling mentally and physically fatigued all the time and sleeping A LOT
- Singing and playing piano (separately and together) exacerbated my symptoms
I found myself with constant head pressure and pain, having trouble looking at screens, and needing more sleep than I'd ever needed in the past. I wore a floppy hat, sunglasses, and earplugs in public to combat my light and sound sensitivity. My thinking was often much slower than normal and I felt overwhelmed a lot. I smiled through it, but I felt like I had to fight through thick fog in my head to connect dots that used to be quickly and easily connected. I didn’t understand what was happening… It began to feel like I was being dragged down as life was flying past me.
The next part of my life is a bit blurry.