A dis­cus­sion about a con­cus­sion

The Citizen-Record (Cumberland) - - COMMUNITY - Sara Jewell Field Notes Sara Jewell is a free­lance writer who lives near Port Howe. Visit her web­site at www.sara­jew­ell.ca.

“It’s re­quired me to be mind­ful of what I’m able to do and not take on too much. I started this past se­mes­ter with ‘Health first, study sec­ond.’ And the se­mes­ter started out re­ally well; I got the best marks I’ve got­ten in uni­ver­sity so far, and I re­ally en­joyed what I was do­ing.”

Hello from beau­ti­ful down­town New Salem.

On Satur­day, May 20, there will be a com­mu­nity cleanup spon­sored by the ADDA at the log build­ing at 9 a.m. They are look­ing for vol­un­teers to help with the cleanup. Garbage bags and gloves will be avail­able at the log build­ing for ev­ery­one to use. The garbage dump­ster will be at the log build­ing un­til May 23.

On Satur­day, May 20, the Down­shore Mar­ket will be open­ing at the log build­ing from 9 a.m. to noon for the sea­son. Come on out for a cof­fee with a friend or meet a new friend and browse the lo­cal vendors’ wares.

On Satur­day, May 20, open mike will be back at the log build­ing, start­ing at 7 p.m. Do­na­tions will be taken at the door. A can­teen and 50/50 draw will be avail­able.

On Sun­day, May 21, the Spencer’s Is­land Craft and Farm­ers mar­ket will open from 1 to 4 p.m. at the com­mu­nity hall.

On Fri­day, June 9, Spencer’s Is­land Bingo will be held at the Ad­vo­cate Fire Hall at 7 p.m. Come on out for an evening of fun.

The Ad­vo­cate United Church ser­vices are now be­ing held at the United Church at 8:30 a.m. un­less oth­er­wise no­ti­fied.

That’s it for this week. Have a great week, ev­ery­one, and en­joy your family and friends.

Ev­ery time Sid­ney Crosby, the Nova Sco­tia born-and-bred cap­tain of the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins, gets a blow to the head, hockey fans hold their col­lec­tive breath, wait­ing to hear if he’s suf­fered an­other, pos­si­bly ca­reer-end­ing con­cus­sion.

If a con­cus­sion can bring down an ath­lete of his cal­i­bre, what about the av­er­age per­son, say a 21-year-old woman play­ing re­cre­ational soc­cer in Hal­i­fax?

Just as she was head­ing into her third year at Dal­housie Uni­ver­sity, Paige Black of Ox­ford sus­tained two con­cus­sions in two weeks as the goalie for her re­cre­ational soc­cer team.

Three years af­ter the injuries, Paige ex­plained that con­cus­sions are an “in­vis­i­ble in­jury” that are not read­ily seen like a bro­ken arm.

“Give your­self 24 hours be­cause it’s not al­ways no­tice­able right away,” she said. “It tends to take a lit­tle more time to see if your head hurts.”

Her main symp­tom was want­ing to sleep all the time.

“I’d get up and three hours later be so ex­hausted. I couldn’t stay awake.”

The con­cus­sion also left her with a sen­si­tiv­ity to light and sound. Wearing sun­glasses in a class­room be­cause of the flu­o­res­cent light­ing or leav­ing a party be­cause of the noise makes her seem anti-so­cial but it’s the re­sult of her symp­toms.

“Af­ter the sec­ond con­cus­sion, I was in my apart­ment for three months with the blinds closed,” she said.

Now 24 and liv­ing with these symp­toms, Paige de­scribed her head as feel­ing like she has elas­tic bands wrapped around it.

“It al­ways feels like my skull is shrink­ing in­ward. It’s hard to stay pos­i­tive,” she added. “Not to men­tion you’re more ir­ri­ta­ble with a brain in­jury.”

Ac­tive, out­go­ing and hard­work­ing, this brain in­jury has forced Paige to slow down. Af­ter tak­ing a year off school to learn how to live and work within the lim­its im­posed by her symp­toms, Paige an­tic­i­pates grad­u­at­ing this coming De­cem­ber with an arts de­gree in in­ter­na­tional de­vel­op­ment.

“It’s re­quired me to be mind­ful of what I’m able to do and not take on too much,” she said. “I started this past se­mes­ter with ‘Health first, study sec­ond.’ And the se­mes­ter started out re­ally well; I got the best marks I’ve got­ten in uni­ver­sity so far, and I re­ally en­joyed what I was do­ing.”

The uni­ver­sity pro­vides ac­com­mo­da­tions for any student, whether for a bro­ken arm, a hear­ing im­pair­ment or a brain in­jury. Un­able to both move her eyes up and down to take notes dur­ing class as well as pay at­ten­tion, Paige re­ceives a class­mate’s notes.

For­tu­itously, she was al­ready work­ing part-time for the uni­ver­sity’s Ac­ces­si­bil­ity De­part­ment when she was injured.

When she re­al­ized she was help­ing other stu­dents find ac­com­mo­da­tions for their con­cus­sion symp­toms, she sought help her­self.

“It’s been neat to dis­cover that my per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence is very help­ful. When some­one tells me they have a con­cus­sion, I know what to do,” she said. “It makes my job more re­ward­ing be­cause I ap­pre­ci­ate be­ing able to use those ser­vices so I re­ally want to make sure other stu­dents get what they need.”

All too of­ten, a dis­abil­ity can be a bar­rier to em­ploy­ment but in Paige’s case, it’s made her a more valu­able em­ployee. Her fu­ture’s so bright, she’s gotta wear shades.

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