One Tough Injury

By: Joshua

6 Votes

One Tough Injury - Joshua

University of Maryland


Usually when people endure a life changing event of some kind, they tend to say, “I remember it like it was yesterday…” after it’s finished. For me, I can’t really do that. There are only some parts I can actually remember “like it was yesterday”, and even though it’s been over half a decade later, and I’m still putting it all together and facing its effects.

We had a substitute that day in 2008, and we were just reading aloud from our textbooks. Suddenly, I felt that I was going to get sick, which seemed odd since I was feeling fine earlier that morning. I told myself just to hold out until the end of the page before I would excuse myself to the nurse. I do not recall anything else from that day except for waking up for a moment in an ambulance, and then finally awaking in the pediatric ward of the local hospital. The hours in between are lost and I will never recover them.

From what I was told, I somehow managed to lose consciousness in my seat, and to quote the substitute that day, "Roll out of my chair in slow motion" and my head hit the floor. I assume then an ambulance was called and I was whisked away. After a brain hemorrhage diagnosis and a week in intensive care, I was discharged from the hospital.

The only thing I really expected from the injury was physical pain, and of course I did. I expected my recovery to be short with just a lot of Advil in the treatment plans. Unfortunately, that was not the case, as I managed to gloss over the lasting cognitive and mental issues that came with the injury.

After the trauma, I had problems with everyday things. I used to be a very organized person. Not anymore. I had trouble with impulsivity and getting things done; as a result, my work ethic was compromised. I had crippling anxiety and depression that would make even Hamlet look cheery. I would overanalyze, and, as a result, miss out on academic and social opportunities. While I managed to keep my academic life afloat, my social one deteriorated. I went from a very extroverted individual to a detached, shy one. I never expected any of this from just a knock on my head.

The experience of recovery molded me into a new person. Since those issues stayed with me for a while, they made for a rough start to high school for me. I had to juggle social and academic responsibilities with the added trouble of taking care of the symptoms that came from my brain injury. After having a particularly rocky sophomore year, I decided the rest of my high school years were not going to be like the previous ones. During junior year, I made huge strides both inside the classroom and out. I decided to challenge myself and take AP United States History and Advanced Writing and World Literature - two classes that I had previously opted out of. These classes introduced me to two new passions. I also took risks and tried new things. I finally became comfortable enough with myself to speak up and participate more in class. I joined the school newspaper, and dedicated myself to a cause that I still participate in today. I was also able to fit in socially, and found a group of friends who shared my interests. My brain injury was an immense hardship throughout my high school career, but I managed to overcome its effects by being patient, working hard, and by trying new things.

Unfortunately, my progress seemed to have reset when these sentiments carried over into my Freshmen year of college as well. Being in a new place with new experience and new faces meant that a lot of the symptoms that came from my brain injury presented themselves again. A similar pattern emerged: a struggle to balance between caring for the symptoms and my social and academic responsibilities. As my peers were talking about meeting new people and trying new classes, I was fighting off headaches and a slew of anxiety filled and depressive mindsets. Thankfully, I was able to take what I learned in high school and reapply it, making my freshman year of college one of the best school years for me and making me excited to start my sophomore year this fall.

To me, my injury has become almost motivational. I believe that since I was able to overcome it, I am able to overcome anything life decides to throw at me. Despite some remnants of the injury resurfacing every once in awhile (whether it be physical or mental side effects), I am still able to keep my cool, and therefore, I truly believe that my brain injury and caring for it has changed me as a person. In the end, the journey of recovery from my brain injury crafted me into the person I am today.