The PVNCCDSB shared a powerful letter on their Facebook page (see in its entirety below) from Grade 6 St. Catherine Catholic Elementary School student Jack Crawford. The 11-year-old, who plays hockey for the Minor Peewee AA Petes, wrote about what it's like to live with a concussion—"I had my own invisible bully in my brain but I couldn’t stand up to it," he eloquently says.
His mother Amelia tells PTBOCanada seeing her child suffering through this was devastating: "A concussion is a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), and 'traumatic' would be how I would describe this experience as a parent. To see your child suffer physically, socially and emotionally is devastating. I would tell Jack over and over again that 'God always has a way of making something good come from difficult.' Now that Jack has had a chance to tell his story, he truly feels like good has come from his struggle, which is amazing."
Here is the letter Jack wrote...
I am very lucky kid. I have a great family, I have lots of good friends, I play on a great hockey team, and school is fun. I am grateful for all of these things, but something happened to me that has changed how I felt about everything.
About one year ago, while I was outside playing, I ran straight into a pole. It sounds funny, it probably even looked funny, but it was a big deal and it changed my life. I suffered from a pretty bad concussion, and I had no idea what impact it would have on me. I thought a concussion was just a big headache, but it was so much more than that.
For about a week after my concussion, I had to miss school and after-school activities. I slept for days. I couldn’t stand to be near a light, see a screen, read or do anything that I had to focus on. I slowly started to feel okay but I was very frustrated when I started to feel a bit better and I couldn’t do anything. No TV, no reading, no screens. All I was allowed to do was go outside and walk.
I went back to school a couple weeks later, and I thought because I felt good enough to go back to school that I was totally better. I didn’t realize concussions lasted a long time. The sound of the bell bothered me and I couldn’t go out on the schoolyard because it felt like there was too much going on. My relationships with my friends seemed strange and I was really sensitive about everything. I felt like people were making me sad a lot easier than before. I was acting funny and I never thought before I spoke.
When people joked around with me I thought they were being serious and took it personally. I wasn’t myself. I tried to be cool but I was just being bold and weird. I was angry at myself for not being ‘me.’ Whenever I woke up in the morning I told myself, ‘This is a new day and I can be myself again.’ But, I would come home from school or hockey crying all the time. It seemed to me that everyone I was around didn’t like me. It was like I had my own invisible bully in my brain but I couldn’t stand up to it.
My parents did lots of things to try to help me feel better, but nothing seemed to be helping me. I was still getting good grades in school, but I could feel I didn’t have the same ability. I was missing important details because I was getting so distracted. I had trouble focusing, something changed with my concentration. Even when I was on the ice (which is my favourite place to be), I wasn’t able to pay attention. I would always be upset with myself because of that. I knew I was missing little key notes in drills, but I couldn’t do anything about it. I would cry every night after hockey because when my coaches tried to give me advice I felt like they were disappointed with me, because I was frustrated. They were really just trying to help me like they always do.
Nobody ever knew I was so upset all the time (except for my family) because I wouldn’t break down in front of anyone else. All of this happened because a bump to my head! I think it would be easier to have a cast because then everyone would see that I had something wrong with me. But I looked fine so people just thought I was being weird.
I am feeling better now. I had massages, I went to a chiropractor, my doctor, and did different vision exercises to help my brain speed. My parents make sure I eat better (because I wanted sugar all the time) and I always get lots of sleep now. So, I don’t know what made me get better, but I am glad I feel more like myself again.
I still get tired really easily, my attention still isn’t where it was before, and I know I am not the same as I was before, but that’s okay. I just want other kids to know that one concussion changed my life. I want other kids to know that even if you are feeling well enough to play sports again doesn’t mean your ability to learn and emotions are all back to normal.
I am lucky that I feel way better now. —by Jack Crawford
Jack's mom Amelia reiterates to parents the importance of taking a concussion seriously:
"My plea to other parents would be to not underestimate the devastating short and long-term effects of concussion. Your son/daughter might be upset about missing sports or activities, but our job is not to please our children—it's to protect them. Please listen to coaches, doctors, educators and, most importantly, your child, if a concussion is suspected."
PVNC has great concussion resources available here.
**Please share this post with others that you think would be interested in learning what it's like to experience this.