On what I thought would be an idyllic birthday, I felt my soccer cleats tear through the ground as I bolted toward the ball in a tournament game for my team– little did I know that the next moment would change my life forever.
Life as a child was ordinary for me. I went to school everyday and played as many sports as I could. I was I was MVP of diving and soccer, respectively, every year, practically living at the pool I swam and dove in each day.
My life was perfect, the life every child would have yearned for. I dreamt about my future and having a flawless life. When I gazed at the dandelions outside my window, I would never see weeds, for they would always be wishes. Little did I know as a child that life isn’t perfect– it’s messy. Life is a trail with twists and turns; it has outcomes that always go unforeseen. Anything can happen in a second, and for me just one second turned my world upside down.
As I woke to the scent of pancakes in the air on that Spring day, I sped out of bed toward my calendar. I crossed off the large square labeled March 26, 2012 with “MY BIRTHDAY” drawn in the center in a rose-colored Sharpie.
“I can’t believe I’m 13, already,” I thought to myself.
I began getting ready for school, making sure everything was ideal for this special day. I slung my soccer bag over my shoulder and headed off to school for my classes. The day carried on as normal with everything from Mrs. Hathaway’s lectures on the shape of the globe to Mr. G’s explanation of grammar.
My soccer team gathered in the locker room after the final bell and got ready for the tournament against our rivals.
When the school day was over, I was ready to hit the field. My team and I stretched, counting out in unison.
We played hard against our rivals, trying to come out victorious. As the last few minutes of the game approached, I could feel my heart pounding in my chest. I glanced at the scoreboard; the game was perfectly tied and that was not good enough for me.
I was playing right forward during the last five minutes of the game. My left forward had the ball and attempted to make the final goal, but the opposing team’s goalkeeper was good. The goalkeeper shot the ball into the air and my eyes remained locked on it as it soared through the sky. I jumped into the air but right before making contact with the ball, everything went black.
The shriek of the whistle made my eyes shoot open. I rolled to my side to see another player holding her head, and, within a second, pounding traveled through my brain.
The day continued as normal, but everything had changed once I woke up the next morning. The pounding continued in my head; as I stood up, everything went black and, before I knew it, I opened my eyes, staring at the ceiling. I scurried over to my bathroom, violently vomiting on the surrounding floor.
Yet, I pushed myself to go to school. Lights seemed to burn my eyes; Mrs. Jenkins handed out worksheets, but as I looked at it all I could see were lines and circles. I couldn’t read anymore, and as I tried to grasp a pencil, it dropped from my hand.
From that point on, my memory is a fuzzy mixture of short-term memories, walking sideways, blacking out, headaches, vomiting and so much more. Unfortunately, my concussion led to a chronic pain condition that took over my life. Although other symptoms of my concussion have subsided, I will be in pain forever. There is so little awareness for chronic pain and brain injuries that today I am here to share with you what a brain injury is, in honor of Brain Injury Awareness Month.
Concussions can change your life in a matter of seconds. I am now 17 years old and have three chronic illnesses due to my brain injury. These conditions cause me to have blackouts or faint on a daily basis, and be in constant excruciating pain every minute of every day.
Since getting hit, I have been on hospital/homebound school due to the fact that physically attending school is practically impossible because of my limitations.
Even though it has been four years since my injury, those few moments changed my life forever. When you have a brain injury, you have to say goodbye to everything you once loved: school, sports, friends. A lot of people with brain injuries feel alone in their fight, which is why this is such an important cause.
A few years after getting hit, I started a blog about staying positive with chronic illness, and, within a few months, I had already hit 1.5 thousand followers, and messages poured in about how much my blog had helped others with their struggle against pain.
I also started “chronicpain09 support” on Facebook, which is a closed group offering support to those who suffer from chronic illnesses and mental illnesses. It feels unreal that in less than a week, my support group had already hit 100 members.
I now run my own website where I share tips and spread awareness about traumatic brain injuries, chronic illness and mental illness. Life with a brain injury is so challenging and is a tough mountain to climb.
All of my platforms are focused around positivity and the message that I want to leave with my followers: hope never abandons you– you abandon it.