Cassidy Hill has suffered over 11 concussions during her young athletic career. She has written a letter to her concussions below.
Dear 11+ Concussions,
You have been a part of my life for 11 years now. For as long as I can remember you have been here, but your presence was never wanted; it still isn’t. However, now I have learned how to live with you, even though I want you to leave me alone. I have been told that you will always be here, fighting me for the rest of my life. At the beginning, you were no big deal because you’d knock me down, but I’d get right back up. You didn’t faze me. I had so many dreams and so many things I wanted to accomplish, there was no way I was letting you stop me from that. After you came back a few more times the doctors told me that you had won. That I had to give up on my dreams of becoming a basketball star, I was told there was nothing I could do; I didn’t listen. I was too young to understand your consequences. People didn’t know as much about you as they do now. You weren’t a mild traumatic brain injury; you were just a “bump on the head”. Then I couldn’t just rest for one night, it became weeks. Then months. I had everything I could have ever wanted in life because I had amazing friends, sports, coaches, teammates, and family. Everyone had such high hopes for my basketball career, you took that all away. Although, basketball wasn’t just a sport to me, it was my life and everything I ever knew. My life revolved around basketball, it was like half of me was taken away because I lost team Ontario, my competitive team, and high school team. Once you took all that away I lost myself because everything I ever knew was gone. Then my friends followed, and I wasn’t the same happy athletic girl that I used to be.
A switch flipped in my head and I found myself fighting to be happy. You took me out of school next. You confined me to the four walls of my room for months. No connection to the outside. You were just as mentally debilitating as you were physically. I wish I had listened to the doctors when you first entered my life. I didn’t know how to deal with you, what to do with all these symptoms. The headaches were unbearable, the pressure you caused in my head made me fall to my knees in agony. My friends didn’t understand; I was 16 and I couldn’t even go out to the movies on a Friday night. I felt alienated. Lost. Confused, at what I did to deserve this. How do I make you stop? The doctors recommended I go to Parkwood, the brain injury hospital in London, Ontario.
It wasn’t long until you came back. This time, I was wearing a helmet. I did everything right to protect myself from you, but it wasn’t enough. When that four-wheeler rolled, you were back. My grade 12 year of high school. I’m thankful that Parkwood taught me how to deal with you, they taught me that we can live side by side. I was still so angry with you though, how could I ever forgive you for what you took away from me? I was missing everything. I still am. I missed the high school sporting events, prom committee, assemblies, university parties, everything a young girl longed for. You made sure that I couldn’t have any of it. You changed my high school experience and now you have followed me into university, and you will continue to follow me for the rest of my life.
What you didn’t realize though was that you only made me stronger. I am now more determined with you than I ever would have been without you. I find happiness in the simple things now, and I focus more on school. I may have to work five times as hard as everyone else to get where I want, but I will never let you stop me. What doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger is what everyone always told me. Now I believe it because I may not be where I thought I would be in my life, but that’s okay. I’m in university, somewhere the doctors told me I could never be. They told me to accept that I will never be able to pursue my dreams of a university education. I am making the most of the hand I was dealt. You may make things harder but you don’t make them impossible. Nothing is impossible. I may only be 21, but you have put me through more than what most people will go through in lifetime. 11+ concussions later and a lifetime of headaches, dizziness, anxiety, depression, drowsiness, difficulty concentrating and most of all: difficulty remembering. Sure, there is a lot of bad things that come along with you, but I must thank you for making me into the young lady that I am today. You have shaped me into exactly the person I want to be. You make life harder, but nothing that’s worth it is easy, right? It’s like I just made it past the second quarter, but there’s still half a game left and there’s so much that can happen. I keep telling myself that you’ve put me through the worst and it can only get better from here. Most importantly, everything happens for a reason. I am exactly where I am supposed to be, thanks to you.
Good-bye for now, my friend, my enemy, my concussions,