Gloria is our comeback athlete for January!
A Concussion While Reading?
Gloria is a 10th grader at Rincon high who suffered a bad concussion in December 2016. She was laying down to read a book and rest her head on the wall when she underestimated the distance and hit her head on a brick wall. Her head hurt immediately and she noticed a bump. Her headache lasted for several hours. When she told her dad, he said, “Stop whining, take an aspirin”. (He shook his head as he told us this and later said “I wish I knew”.)
3 ER Visits & A Spinal Tap
Gloria, who had never had migraines before, started getting migraines and stomach aches so her parents took her to the ER and she was discharged later that day.
A few days later, Gloria woke up with her legs feeling heavy and numb. She thought she ‘slept funny’ on them, but the sensation wouldn’t go away. Soon after, Gloria had what is called drop foot, she couldn’t lift her left foot and had little control over her left leg. Gloria’s parents took her to the ER again where they did a battery of tests including examining her reflexes, MRI, and sonogram. Then Gloria started to get numbness in her face. After her 3rd ER visit, she was hospitalized. The doctors initially thought it was a stroke, then a neurological disease.
When we asked Gloria what the numbness in her leg and face were like, she said:
It was really freaky. I couldn’t feel anything on my left side. My mom had to feed me because my hand was so numb that I would spill all of my food when I was trying to move it to my mouth. I’m left handed, and I couldn’t do anything. Mom and Dad cried. They were very worried. Everyone thought it might be Duchenne muscular dystrophy. I had the same symptoms which really freaked out Mom and Dad. The neurologists told my dad not to go online and look it up because it would freak them out.
They did a spinal tap to rule out muscular dystrophy. It hurt so much. I was angry the next day and didn’t want anyone near me.
When describing the spinal tap, Gloria’s dad said, “She squeezed my hand so hard that I almost fainted. I felt her pain go through me.”
It was a nightmare for Gloria and her family. She was in the hospital for 10 days before the neurologist in the ER referred her to Dr. Mo & SPARCC Sports Medicine.
A Long, Hard Recovery Process
The recovery process was hard for Gloria, especially in the beginning when she couldn’t do anything. “It was hard to get into doing things to get me back to normal,” she said “there was a time when I thought ‘am I going to stay this way forever?’ It was really scary.”
Gloria’s life was put on hold. She had just landed a modeling position in New York. “I thought, ‘There go all my high heels’.” Gloria also lost a lot of friends. They stopped talking to her when she was in the hospital. The concussion was so bad that she couldn’t go to school because she couldn’t walk and couldn’t deal with the crowded hallways and loud noises. Even going to the mall was hard.
Best & Worst Moments
When we asked Gloria what her best moments were during the recovery process she said, “I got to meet the SPARCC team!” Aww! We enjoyed getting to know you, too.
Gloria and her dad both described Dr. Mo as “wonderful and heartwarming.” They said he was very understanding. Gloria’s dad said, “He knew what he was talking about. He was very reassuring and didn’t sugar coat anything.” Gloria also described Dr. Mo as very patient and understanding in which way she wanted to go with her recovery process.
Her “worst moments” were ImPACT and vision testing. “I hated those!” she exclaimed. (She really did. Leslie & Christie can attest to that!)
Gloria also said that active rehab helped her a lot, “It helped me get the strength back in my leg and to get my balance back so I could walk better.” Active rehab also helped her focus better and learn to catch her headaches when they started so she could recognize that she needed to step back. “I didn’t take any medication,” she said, “it was all PT and active rehab.”
Advice for Concussion Patients & Families
Listen to the doctor! He knows what he’s talking about. Gloria said, “There were times I didn’t [listen] and I noticed my headaches got worse. Sometimes I didn’t go to PT and my legs started getting weak all over. I knew I needed to listen and go back to the gym.”
Gloria’s dad recommends that you have patience and understand the symptoms. He also expressed how important it is to not ignore the symptoms of a concussion.
What’s next now that you’re symptom-free?
“I’m pretty excited to go back and do all of the things I wanted to do. The other day I spent the whole day dancing all the time.” Gloria said it felt so good to get back into the motion that she just wanted to dance. She even went zip lining with her dad! She said it really gets the heart pumping.
Now that Gloria is feeling better, she wants to go back to modeling. She has always been active and is considering playing baseball or basketball.
It’s so great to see Gloria back to her old self again. We wish you all the best, Gloria!