FEATURED IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A black and white picture of a wreaked enduro race car from the 1980s. The author, Jeff, describes these cars on his website: “Enduro Stock Cars are old wrecks with all the glass except the windshield removed, all the inside upholstery except the drivers seat removed, a bit of a roll cage put in, the doors welded shut, the gas tank put in the trunk and then the car gets a paint job and numbers put on. The cars are then raced for 200 laps or more on a short track oval, sometimes up to 80 or 90 cars at a time.” This particular car that is wrecked he says: “It’s the car that most reminds me of the headaches, the brain fog, and the back surgery that ended my racing.”
I have always been an anxious person, and always worried about stuff. But as a kid, the sidewalks of the street where I lived were on a very steep 0.35 km long hill. Starting when I was just a few years old, back in the 1960’s, I became obsessed with going down that hill with wagons, homemade go karts, bikes, and pretty much anything else that had wheels. Sometimes, I’d even try Evel Knievel like stunts.
My balance, reflexes, spatial awareness, ability to read the situation, and courage were my superpowers. My anxiety seemed to melt away, wheels were like my cape. I felt like Superman, I felt safe.
I continued to participate in activities that used my ‘powers’ well until into adulthood. Now, decades later, brain injury has robbed me of them, it has been my kryptonite. Activities that once helped me escape, are now hard to deal with. My powers are buried under bad balance, clumsiness, poor depth perception, and brain fog.
When your physical and cognitive abilities are effected by brain injury, you can feel trapped in your own world, and unable to keep up with the world around you. When you have always found security in succeeding in activities that require the ability to read and react using knowledge, visual tracking, and quick reflexes, losing these things can make you feel more vulnerable in situations that you would have once dealt with easily
When BIST tweeted about homelessness and its connection to brain injury, it triggered some thoughts in my head. I’m in no way an expert on the issue, but it had me remembering how I struggled, undiagnosed, and without the support of the brain injury community, until I had that one concussion in 2015.
In 2015, while sitting in my parked car in a parking lot having a coffee, an elderly woman accidentally floored her car, left the roadway, entered the lot I was in, and crashed into me. My car was a write off, and I sustained a life changing concussion. This injury worsened previously undiagnosed symptoms that I had for well over 10 years.
I’m often asked when I sustained my concussion/brain injury, and the answer always makes me pause. The collision in 2015 may be the most identifiable of my injuries, but it is only part of the story. As I said, I was a bit of a daredevil as a kid. As an adult, I later went on to race enduro stock cars in the 80’s. My problems really began when I had to give up beer league goaltending in 2003 after I started to have problems with my balance.
Throughout my life, more times than I could ever remember, I have had either one of, or a combination of, being dazed, seeing stars or strange colours, ringing ears, headaches, and other symptoms from either a jolt to the body or hit to the head. But it was only because of that one identifiable incident in 2015 that I started to get the help I needed, and my previous concussions were recognized.
I can’t help but to wonder about how many people there are out there who have been repetitively concussed, but have never had that one identifiable concussion. Having an even less visible ‘invisible injury’, they fly under the radar, and don’t know to search for places like BIST or OBIA for support.
Invisible Injuries from an Invisible Sport
Jeff enjoys making YouTube videos, working on his webpage, JeffTheLeafsFan.ca, walking, and watching his beloved Leafs. Follow him on Twitter: @goaleafs and YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/JeffTheLeafsFan