When Mackenzie asked me to write a piece for this blog my first reaction was that I was so proud of her, as I truly believe this is something of importance. My second reaction, however, was that in some sense I didn’t feel worthy to write a piece for this, that my concussion stories seemed privileged in comparison to what her and my other teammates have suffered through.
I have had 5 diagnosed concussions; which when I tell people their face always tells me that 5 is a decent number.
I was a daredevil child who sought enjoyment and thrill in making zip lines from the trees in my backyard and by flying off jumps on my bike. I would climb to the top of the light posts that at night indicated when it was time for me to head home. It seemed that I did everything that I could in my power to raise my mother’s blood pressure. I often felt and feel that I have complete control of my body, which often made these actions calming for me. However, when suffering a concussion, it gives me a severe glimpse of no control over my body.
I couldn’t tell you exactly what happened when I got my first concussion, or my second or third for that matter. They all have started to jumble together. Perhaps due to post concussion symptoms but more realistically it is because they never seemed like a big deal to the doctors I saw or me. There was a definite lack of knowledge regarding treatment and long-term effects. It was the same speech every time; wait 7 days and then rejoin my normal physical activity. I think the amount of concussions I’ve had is due to the fact I obtained my first ones at a young age and that I was perhaps thrown into physical and mentally activity too quickly. Diagnosis and treatment is improving which has been proven to me with my most recent concussions, however, we still have work to do.
For me, concussions were made to be a normal thing -a verified risk- in the hockey environment I grew up in. Concussions were just a waiting game for everyone. Now that I am taking neuroscience courses at University and being exposed to different environments, am I aware of this warped sense of thinking. There should be nothing normal about this injury. The game isn’t going to change but our treatments and diagnosis’s can continue to improve. We can take all the steps from our end to help prevent such injuries.
We are taught to respect and value doctors, whom I wholeheartedly believe deserve that respect, however, there are still weak points in medicine. The health of your brain is more important than any game. As a (future) microbiologist I understand and respect the value in the unknowns and the evolution of science. Our knowledge and understanding of so many aspects is rapidly changing in this field and I think that is extremely relevant. I believe we are just now truly scratching the surface of this injury.
Each one of my concussions has been extremely different. All have required different steps of recovery and have impacted me in varying ways. I think it’s necessary that the research for this injury continues to grow and that the treatment is not a one size fits all.
Neurological diseases run in my family, which have shown me first hand the devastating impacts of such diseases. Having suffered as many concussions as I have, I would be lying if I said that it didn’t terrify me. At this point in time I haven’t suffered from any severe post concussion symptoms but I don’t know the impact one more will have on my brain or the long-term effects of these injuries. An injury to the brain is serious, as we are nothing without our brains. I think most people will agree with that, however, it is easy to be blinded by other forces and not let that statement feel relevant to us. We often like to put ourselves as the exception, feeling that nothing will get to that point or happen to us. The truth is we don’t know. We don’t know when the next career ending hit will take place or what symptoms may effect us 30 years from now. A concussion is an injury to our most vital organ and no game will ever have the power to be more important than that.
– Darcy Henderson
Darcy is loyal, strong and kind. I have had the privilege of playing alongside Darcy as a teammate and consider her a lifelong friend. Regardless of a concussions range in severity, length and impact on an individual, they still touch the lives of those who are affected. Darcy’s story reflects the importance of identifying and applying proper concussion protocol as well as emphasizing the relevance of researching better concussion care.