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Sharon's Story

Sharon's Story

I was a high-energy elementary school principal known for buzzing about the building in my suits and running shoes. My whole world changed when I sustained a concussion. I stood straight up into an old cabinet door that had popped open above me. That started my journey with Post-Concussion Syndrome and years of recovery. I had to retire from a career I loved due to my brain injury. I now serve on the Board of Directors for the Brain Injury Alliance of Nebraska. I advocate for the brain injured community, but specifically concentrate my efforts toward educating our schools about the Return to Learn Law and how staff can best support students with concussions returning to the school setting. I have also written a book about my experience entitled, Out of the Rabbit Hole: How a Concussion Changed My Life: A Story of Hope. More information about my book, as well as helpful resources and a blog, can be found on my web site, I have found that sharing my story not only helps to educate others about brain injuries, but it has helped me to heal.  Here is a short excerpt from chapter two of my book:

I’m not sure why I was so hesitant to see my doctor. Denial was probably the primary factor. It was a very inconvenient time to be out of commission. I was so busy getting the new school year off the ground that I simply did not have time for a concussion. But by that afternoon my brain fog had rolled back in and I could no longer think straight. I picked up the phone and called my family physician’s office. She had time to see me on Wednesday, exactly one week after I had hit my head.

I continued working that Tuesday. The pain and fog seemed to ebb and flow with my stress levels. I have very little memory of that day and am pretty sure I just soldiered through it. What else could I do?

My appointment was on Wednesday morning, immediately after the doctor’s office opened. I woke up feeling better; sleep seemed to help enormously. I felt so much better that I almost canceled the appointment. When my doctor walked into the examining room I summarized for her what had happened and described my symptoms. I mentioned feeling confused and showed her the lump that was still on my head a week later. It was still a little painful to open my jaw. I expressed to her that I was pretty sure I’d had a concussion, but I was over it and only visiting with her because I had promised my husband I would. I did not want to have a concussion, so I was working hard to will it away.

Throughout my life, this gritty toughness of pushing through the pain was my mode of operation. In high school, the principal called me “Grin”—short for “Grin and bear it.” (My maiden name was Barrett, so the nickname was a play on my last name as well as my personality.) Every strength we have is also a weakness. I was soon going to learn that there is a time to push through and a time to surrender and be still.

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