My Concussion Story

Mikayla Angus

Who Am I?

I started playing lacrosse in 4th grade and was lucky to not sustain any major injuries. That is until my sophomore year of high school. At the time I was playing competitive club lacrosse. I collided head first with an opponent, but continued to play the game as if nothing happened. Two days later I was hit in the head with a ball off of a shot. At this time I only wore eyegear as this was the norm and we were not educated or even aware that there was not another viable option for us. About a week later I began to feel symptoms of a concussion: headaches, fatigue, trouble sleeping, sensitivity to noise, etc. I was diagnosed with a concussion and advised to stay off the field until my symptoms were gone and I was “cleared,” so I did. This occurred in December of 2017 and I was cleared March of 2018. The problem with serious athletes, however, is that we will do anything to get back to doing what we love, so I probably was not ready to go back to lacrosse despite a doctor allowing me to. In mid-april of the same year I took a stick to the head; I again continued to play the game, but days later I came to the devastating realization that I once again had a concussion. I was not cleared from this one until September.

I suffered from these concussions in an extremely stressful part of high school. I was out of school for my winter finals week sophomore year that I had to make up in march, as well as my spring finals. As I started junior year, I did not have the ability to focus on my new and challenging classes as I was still making up assignments from the previous year. My concussions threw my academic plan completely. I found myself in classes below my intelligence because of the lessons I had missed and I continued to miss classes due to lingering effects of my concussion: migraines, lack of concentration, fatigue. I was not able to focus for the same periods of times I used to. As my junior year lacrosse season approached I was so excited to get back into it, but also terrified of getting another concussion. My coach allowed me to play under one condition: I get headgear. Despite my worries, I played and it went well for a little while, but I began to get anxiety and panic attacks when I would step onto the field. I had post-concussion symptoms that I could not ignore anymore and made the decision to quit lacrosse later that season. I struggled with no longer playing the sport that I love and I was still working my butt off to catch up in school. As senior year started my anxiety had worsened and I could not get myself to school. I had to get my education through home hospital, which allowed me to catch up in my classes more efficiently when I was out with migraines.

Beyond academics, my concussions greatly changed my social life and overall mood. I was depressed for much of my junior and senior years, stand-offish towards my friends and family, and all I wanted to do was stay in my room and hide. I would ignore plans with my friends even though I desperately wanted to hang out with them and pretend things were back to normal. However, I had to adjust my definition of normal and final a “new normal.” My new normal didn’t have lacrosse in it and I had to find a way to be okay with that and accept the fact that I had changed throughout this experience.

I do not think that many people fully understand that a concussion is much more than an injury. It alters the way you approach every aspect of your life. Due to my concussion I was not able to apply to many colleges I was interested in since I was behind at the time of deadlines, I could not even explore the possibility of playing at college like I had before, and I would always deal with certain symptoms as lasting effects of my concussion. I graduated on time along with my class and will be starting at Washington State University in the fall which I am extremely proud to say, but due to my concussions I had to work twice as hard to get to where I am now. I wish I could go back to before I had my concussions, because if there is even a chance that headgear is more effective in preventing concussions I would have changed over. Don’t start wearing headgear after you get a concussion, be proactive and protect your head!