It was my “last summer” ever. I had just finished my first year of medical school and was attempting to make the most of my last weeks with pool days, no schedules, and no exams. One of my friends was doing research in Nashville, and I planned a weekend trip to visit her. I set a music playlist, hopped in my car, and drove the 5 hours to Nashville. A mostly enjoyable drive, I had the AC cranked up as the sun beat down on my car…it was a sweltering, 95 degree day. I arrived in the afternoon and my friend and I caught up, went on a brewery tour, and ate barbeque. A LOT of barbeque. The plan was to experience live Nashville music, so we met up with some of my friend’s research colleagues at a rooftop venue overlooking Broadway Ave. I began talking to someone about their research, and they were trying to explain their project to me. I started to feel overheated. I’m not sure I feel good. I’m sweating. It feels really hot. I couldn’t focus much on the conversation I was in as I kept feeling uncomfortable. Maybe I ate too much. I might vomit….I am definitely going to vomit.
Mid sentence, I excused myself from the conversation and told my friend I was going to the restroom. I turned, walked two steps, and fainted. I awoke to a lot of people staring at me, slightly confused. But the overwhelming feeling that I was going to vomit had left. My friend was concerned…”you hit your head”. My head ached, but only mildly. I was more embarrassed than anything, and I was adamant that everything was okay. The rest of the weekend we window shopped and explored different areas in Nashville. My headache persisted, and I would say I generally felt “a bit weird”. Nonetheless, I drove back to St. Louis at the end of the weekend.
The first week with my concussion, I still thought nothing was really wrong. By the end of the week, though, I got in my car to drive, and within 5 minutes, the world started spinning and I started to panic. Finally I realized something must be off. My friend drove me to urgent care and I was diagnosed with a concussion. The PA I saw assured me that I was overly worried, and that my headaches might also just be allergies.
I went back to my apartment. I did a little research on concussions, and according to Google, I would most likely recover in 2-3 weeks. Thank goodness. It was going to be fine. I’d just have to experience a few weeks of these symptoms. I kept telling myself that maybe tomorrow would be the day I would wake up without a headache, feeling normal again.
Little did I know that the days would turn into weeks, and weeks into months. I am now 6 months post concussion, and still living with symptoms every day. I look forward to sharing more about the ups and downs throughout my recovery, coping strategies I find useful, living with chronic pain, and lessons I’ve learned. If you or someone you know is suffering with a concussion, I hope you find some solace in knowing that you are not alone, and that there is hope in recovery.