Today, we had a professional development day at school, and part of it was talking about the issue of students with concussions. We learned about what post-concussion symptoms can be, how they impact student learning, and potential strategies and approaches to help them return to school.
It’s something that I’ve taken very seriously for a long time, especially since my stroke. There seems to be a common misconception that it’s no big deal, but I know very well how serious brain injuries can be. It’s no joke, and students with concussions should be given the accommodations they need (instead of being accused of “milking it” or “taking advantage of it”).
Some of the symptoms we talked about hit extremely close to home. The anxiety and depression. Not being able to multitask as easily, and difficulty concentrating. Not being able to find the right words, or stumbling over words more often. Sensitivity to noise and light.
I do still suffer from some of these symptoms when I compare to my baseline of how things were before my stroke. The ones I notice the most are those associated with verbal communication, and high anxiety. Things that can’t be noticed from the outside, but things I struggle with every day.
When I look back to how far I’ve come, I’m amazed what I’m able to do now. But, thinking about what happened, how it affected me and my family, can still be traumatic.
What’s strange is that I want it to be that way. I don’t want to forget what it was like. I always want to understand and be compassionate to others who are going something similar. I want to be able to help them, and sharing my experience is one way I can do that.
We saw a video today of a women talking about her experience with post-concussion syndrome, and one of the things that really resonated with me was when she mentioned grieving the loss of herself before. It reminded me of when I started calling myself Stroke-Alyssa, and wondering when I was going to be back to “normal”. Now, I know I will never be that person again, because this whole journey has changed me in more ways than I can count. The stroke had a big impact on who I am now, and I don’t want to forget how I got here.