You are constantly dying. Your cells are, anyways, and they're what make you, you. Right? But if you are constantly physically changing, how are you still, mostly you?
Just after the first day of university, before the novelty of higher-level education and meeting strangers from across the globe had even worn off, I needed to go shopping for dorm supplies and groceries. I borrowed a bike, but not a helmet. This was when I made my first mistake.
On my way home, I was hit by a car. What happened afterwards was a blur, at best. Dizzy and disoriented, I trudged up the hill with my bicycle and bruised groceries beside me. Because I'd had multiple concussions before, this ostensibly resembled one of the minor ones and I thought I would be okay. Mistake #2.
I continued to go to class, listen to music, go to the gym, and even train at ultimate frisbee practices. Mistake #3.
A week after the incident, my hands starting shaking uncontrollably, my head pulsed with my racing heart, my nausea manifested itself into vomit, my legs were numb, and I felt as if I had ridden a rollercoaster for six hours straight. Something was seriously wrong.
After visiting multiple doctors who determined that I was indeed suffering from a concussion, I was ordered to bed rest. "Vegetation" was the exact word Dr. Sung had used. For three weeks, I was confined to the darkness of my room. This darkness began to seep into my mind as well, and the lack of human contact, music, and entertainment took its toll on my emotional well-being.
What many people don't realize about concussions is that they consume your life. They swallow up what defines you and disintegrate who you are. It feels as if your life has been set aflame, not only because of the physical pain the fire causes, but also because of how it spreads throughout your life. And even when you try to fix yourself, progress is as slow, excruciating, and frustrating as a lone firefighter's battle with a raging wildfire. A concussion can destroy your happiness, your self-confidence, and your hopes and dreams, as quickly and easily as a match is lit.
Since my concussion 4 months ago, I've struggled with simple math, perpetual headaches, and being able to remember details, everything from enzymes involved in DNA replication to people's names (and I used to be superb with names). I can't think or focus, I can't exercise or do any of the things I'm good at or enjoy, I'm nauseous more often than not, and I'm dizzy always. I sleep for twelve hours each day but am still exhausted. Mostly, I feel like I'm a different person than who I was before, and I wake up each day hoping, wanting, wishing, that I would just feel normal again.
I graduated high school counting my many, many blessings. I was athletic, playing at provincial and national levels, I was intelligent and diligent, I was ambitious and motivated to achieve my lofty dreams, I was making a difference in my community, and I was surrounded with friends and family who laughed and loved, and I too, laughed often and loved always.
My concussion has stripped me of most, if not all, of these blessings. And because they all contributed to my visualization of self-image and self-worth, I've also lost pieces of myself. The fear of never knowing if I'll find them again scares me most.