ON TOP OF THE WORLD
COMMUNITY STORIES | 8.27.2016 | BY SHANNON CARLSON
I sustained a significant concussion in 2012 during my Ironman training. After 14 weeks of post concussive symptoms, I continued my training and I completed the race four months later. Little did I know, my brain had not adequately healed after my concussion. Shortly after my race, I began climbing high altitude mountains around the world, which placed my brain in hypoxic (low oxygen) environments. I ignored the memory loss, the impulsivity, the emotional liability, and other trademark TBI symptoms I was experiencing at the time.
Finally, in 2015, after reaching the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro at over 19,000 ft., my brain endured high altitude cerebral edema. My life has never been the same.
I spent one week in the ICU, a month in a rehabilitation hospital, and followed this by almost four months of outpatient therapy. Now, 17 months later, I continue to battle with balance issues, blurred vision, sensitivity to noise and light, and impaired executive functions. Impulsivity, inappropriate behavior, and decreased safety awareness. I understand what it means to be a survivor of a brain injury.
For me, one of the important things to realize is that I am not alone! That there are others like me, like us, and that we can learn from one another. It's so incredibly important to build a strong team around you, to lean on others that can help support and encourage you.
A positive outlook and awareness have helped me in my recovery and they have come together as one for me. As I become more aware of just how life changing a TBI can be, I remember to keep my feet firmly on the ground, my head up, and to stay moving in a positive direction. I know that if I can learn strategies to cope and to keep taking one step at a time, I can make a difference and reach goals that I don't even see for myself yet. I just know that they are there!
I am joining this community with the hope that yoga and meditation can assist me as I embrace who I am today; that I can surround myself with others like me who are committed to learn how to love their brain.
Kevin, you inspire me.