A family friend, Jackie Pearsall is bright, outgoing and helpful. Jackie’s story helps to raise the awareness that concussions do not just happen in athletic settings. Concussions can happen anyplace, any time, even in the safety of ones home.
My name is Jackie and I am a 22 year old student. I have been playing sports all of my life; golf, water polo, rugby, competitive swimming and ringette to name a few. It is quite shocking, however, that none of these sports can be linked to my concussions. I had my first concussion at the age of 17 when I took a fall. I completely disregarded it and ignored the headaches and the difficulty I had focusing. I figured it was nothing to worry about. My second concussion was much more serious and put the severity of these brain traumas in perspective for me.
It occurred January 1st, 2014. I had woken up feeling very dizzy and disoriented. I went to walk up the stairs when the room started spinning and then everything went black. Due to my unfortunate location, when I fainted I fell down the stairs head first. I was out cold for a few seconds and woke up completely disoriented. I was lucky to have had loved ones around to help assist me because I was in awful condition. I could not stay awake and I was extremely groggy. I was brought to the Lakeshore Hospital where I was seen immediately. The medical team felt as though I needed to be in the care of the neurosurgeons at the Montreal General so from Lakeshore I was rushed in an ambulance downtown. It was revealed that I had internal bleeding in my brain and a crack in my skull. For hours the surgeons were contemplating performing open-head surgery. However, I was fortunate enough to have the bleeding subsided on it’s own. After close to 10 hours in hospitals, I was released to go home and recover. The diagnosis of my case was a moderate concussion and severe brain trauma.
My recovery process took close to 30 days… In the first week I could not walk, sleep, eat or even keep sufficient water down. I lost 18 pounds in the first week. Week 2 was not much better but I gained minimal strength with meal replacements like Boost. In the first two weeks I did not follow a specific treatment plan other than resting and staying in dark and quiet spaces. At the end of week 2 and the beginning of week 3 I could slowly make my way from my bedroom to the couch. At this point I was still underweight and tired but I was nearing the start of my school semester. Since classes were resuming at the end of January, it forced me to work even harder to get my strength back. By eating more and going on light walks, I was feeling a bit better and was able to start attending lectures at the beginning of February.
Overall, this experience was both extremely terrifying and eye opening. The implications of concussions is something no one should take lightly. The doctors have since explained that for the rest of my life I need to avoid any contact sports. In addition, should I ever hit my head or fall resulting in a headache, I need to immediately visit the hospital to ensure that everything is okay internally (as in bleeding or skull fractures). I am fortunate that everything resolved and that I still get to lead a healthy and happy life. I do, however, take far more precautions when taking part in any activity. I do not have the luxury of going into things carelessly because I risk far more than a simple injury. For me a fall could mean a much scarier outcome. I was blessed with an incredible family that helped me through all of this, as well as my boyfriend and great friends.
– Jackie Pearsall
Jackie, a family friend, is bright, outgoing and helpful. Jackie’s story helps to raise the awareness that concussions do not just happen in athletic settings. Concussions can happen anyplace, any time, even in the safety of ones home.