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I Have a Concussion and We Need to Talk About It

In Alabama football is a huge deal. Families and friends gather around tailgates to celebrate and watch their favorite team fight for the win. More and more people are talking about the toll football takes on its players: concussions. Concussions are an extremely serious brain injury that causes serious physical, mental, and emotional medical problems. We don’t talk about them enough in conjunction with sports, let alone everyday life. That’s why I didn’t think I would ever get a concussion.

 I’m in musical theatre. How often does a person hear about an actor or crew member getting a concussion? It’s like asking how many pigs do you see flying through the skies. It’s a crazy question you can’t quite say yes to. When I first got my concussion I wasn’t even aware I had one. It was like any other rehearsal, an actor had received the stage direction to drag my character offstage. Someone had left a makeshift door where it wasn’t supposed to be, and I got thrown into the door.

My head had smacked the door so hard I fell back and hit my head again on the stage. I was dizzy and dark for a minute, but when I came to I started laughing. This may sound odd, but in all honesty, if I get hurt or something embarrassing occurs I start laughing at myself. Everyone was really worried, people were staring, but I just stood back up and said let’s go. I got home and was fine for a few days, but by the following Tuesday, I went south quick.

 I got in the car with my mom and everything was spinning, my head was throbbing, and I was unbearably sensitive to lights and sound. I didn’t know what was wrong then all of a sudden I hadn’t gotten sick in my mom’s car. I felt so bad for my mom and quite frankly for the trunk driver who had witnessed me barf. I didn’t understand how I could be fine one day and reeling the next. I stayed home thinking it was just a dreadful migraine. I hadn’t gotten better within the next couple of days so I went to the doctor. She was worried it was something worse than a migraine, she thought I had meningitis.

 I was rushed off to the ER and had a ton of different tests done. I don’t remember a lot but I remember getting a CT scan, a spinal tap, and Friends was on the tv. The results came back and doctors couldn’t find anything, so they just gave me two different pain killers. I started taking them that night and over the next few days, I start feeling worse. Ten days after the incident that’s when my friend from the track team texts me saying, “Hey, I think you might have a concussion.” I showed the text to my mom who immediately called the doctor and set me up with an appointment that day. Once I’m with the doctor I’m told I have an abnormal concussion and the pain meds made it ten times worse. 

On our way back from the specialist my mom shoots a text to my director asking him, “Tell me what happened to my child.” he responded to her, “Well, I thought she had a concussion, but I didn’t want to say anything.” This man who we had entrusted with my education, my well being, had witnessed my injury in rehearsal, saw my struggles in school, and for ten days decided he just wouldn’t say anything. We were already hurting and he made it worse by not saying anything to help. I couldn’t help feeling betrayed, and to an extent I still do.

For several months I’m having to go through different medications, doctors, accommodations, everything. We weren’t sure if I was going to be able to graduate high school in May because I had been out of school for a little over two months, we were lucky the school was so accommodating to my situation. I did get to take home a diploma despite my struggle to get across the stage. I was still healing by my freshman year at Montevallo, though. I had to have DSS to help me. Heck, I was just getting to a point where I could walk again. Not only was I dealing with all the fear of being a freshman in college, but dealing with the fear of was I going to be able to even be a functioning human. Luckily, I survived my first year, but I had several ups and downs.

To be blunt, I’m still not healthy. I had this concussion nearly a year and a half ago and I’m still suffering from several health issues. This past week I had to undergo an ambulatory EEG hoping to find something to explain my health issues that have newly developed from the damage done and to find something to explain why I’m still damaged. I don’t fully understand why all this happened or why it’s still happening, but I have people who support me not just among my friends and family, but people in Montevallo staff, both educators, DSS, and Trio who help and support me. That helps me a lot, but it’s still hard to be a functioning student and human with everything going on inside my head.  This concussion has caused damage to my entire body physically, mentally and emotionally.

Early concussion and even now there’s times when I can’t walk, talk, or even think without undergoing extreme levels of pain. The anxiety and depression I had beforehand have worsened, and the emotional toll this has caused me and the people who care about me hurts just as much as the physical pain. This was one incident that resulted in two hits to my unprotected head, I don’t want to begin to imagine what athletes have to undergo. Especially not with football or hockey or even worse rugby players, athletes go through much worse than what I’ve been going through and I can only begin to imagine how they feel.  I’m glad we have accommodations on campus, but there needs to be more we can do to help people who suffer from this. There has to be more research, more funding, more concern, more everything. If the only thing you can do is speak up, speak up. Whether it’s speaking up for someone else, or speaking up for yourself if you need help, please don’t be afraid to say something. I’m having to learn how to speak up for myself and admit when I need help instead of constantly trying to push myself and say I’m fine when I’m not. It’s scary, it’s hard and I praise God for the people I have on this campus that care about me because I truly don’t know what I would do without them. 

The people around me who help and support me are everyday heroes whether they realize it or not, and to every person who has helped and continues to help me, thank you. You make an impact on whether I’m good at expressing it or not, you truly make an impact and I can not thank you enough. I don’t know if I can ever truly repay your kindness and patience, but I’m profoundly grateful. I don’t know if I can do much to help anyone, but I hope that by my saying something I can try to offer something. I can’t stay silent and if I can find more ways I can help I will, but I hope this is a start. No one should have to deal with anything like this ever and to think about the number of college students who suffer from this breaks my heart, but if anything those people who deal with this; friends, family members, and loved ones of people who witness this unsure of how to help, know that you’re extremely strong. You are capable, valid, powerful, and I promise somehow things will get better. I’m sure of it. 


Bailey Glasgow

Montevallo '22

Student at the University of Montevallo studying in Musical Theatre who enjoys writing, cooking, and volunteer work. Catholic. Story teller and believer in fairness and equality for all. Wrote a letter to Forrest Fenn about his poem once, he was chill.
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