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My journey dealing with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)

Wrestling was the only thing I had known, countless training, lonely morning practices and endless training to wrestle with the best.

I had suffered a concussion in the past, so I knew what and how they happen, but the one I received my sophomore year of high school was a different kind of concussion. I didn’t know it at the time because I was focused on finishing the match at hand. As I walked off the mat with high emotion – I was alone, fatigued with blurred vision and when I took off my headgear, I noticed blood in my ear cups. I brushed it off, I thought it was impossible this could be concussion. However, going forward, I knew I needed to wrestle more cautiously and calculated to prevent this from ever happening again.

I finished that season and my junior year with no residual effects from that match. I beat it; my calculated plan had worked.

The summer before my senior year, I had a minor surgery, and while recovering I had a seizure at home which resulted in me falling and hitting my head. All in all, I recovered. A concussion had happened, the symptoms were there, but I knew how to handle them. I recovered with plenty of rest while strategizing my senior year and everything I had been training for. I wanted to be recruited for more than my win record, I wanted to be recruited for my loyal dedication to my health and wellness, my drive, my perseverance, and that meant I belonged in only one school. I wanted to be a NORSE WRESLTER at Luther College.

My season started as expected, I earned myself a #2 ranking in the state and I was in the best shape, mentally and physically of my life.

As matches passed, I felt off, I couldn’t place it at the time; nothing that prevented me from my training but just an off feeling. I told no one. This is what wrestlers train for, mental blockage and I would prevail.

Mid-season at the Bi-State Classic, where the best of the best meet up. I was in the middle of the semifinal match with a 2x state champion and I was in a throw I had been in, a 1000 times before, but there I sat, stunned and dazed, I quickly shook it off. As I ran back to the center of the match, I knew things were about to take a turn for the worse. I had nothing to give for the remainder of the match, I couldn’t focus; I was always delayed on my response. I lost. I purposely stayed away from my mother, who was in the stands, who never missed a match, she would know by the look in my eyes; something was wrong. My dad was the coach and I played my part, so well, that it allowed me to get on the mat one more time. I knew I shouldn’t have; I knew my body hadn’t recovered enough, but this was my shot. From my past experiences, I knew I would just need to wrestle more calculated. I only lasted a few minutes on the mat before my dad, my coach, called off the match. I was dazed, delayed in response, and it was very evident I had a concussion.

I knew what I needed to do, so I rested. My parents had me see some doctors, athletic trainers and chiropractic care to help aid in my recovery. They knew how important my goals were to me. So, I rested.

I was cleared after some time to return to wrestling, no residual symptoms, passed all the testing and I was READY. However, my parents and I made the decision to wait some extra time to be cautious.

I waited until the last possible moment to return, Regional finals. I had received a bye that earned me a spot in the finals. I was matched with a wrestler I had been paired against earlier in the year; what could go wrong. I knew everything about him, I studied my previous match and planned my moves. I needed to be calculated as this is my first time back to the mat. My dad paced the mat side, waiting my turn, while my mom was in the hallway pacing. I was ready. It was GO TIME.

2 minutes.  2 minutes was all I lasted on the mat. Vertigo had set in and I fell to the ground. Nausea, blurred vision and frankly I can’t really remember anything, until I was in a waiting room with the athletic trainer and my mom. My season was over, my career was over, everything was over at that moment as I was being rushed to the hospital. How could this happen again, I asked repeatedly.

Over the course of the next 18 months, we traveled again and again, not for wrestling but for doctors. We found answers in Atlanta, Georgia. TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury. I had never really healed, from the previous concussions, so my senior year I was battling a TBI resulting from it. TBI, is not commonly talked about and I really want to raise awareness that concussions can have lifelong consequences. I chose my path; I chose to get back on the mat every time and no one could have probably told me differently.

Now I want to try to be a voice for athletes, so that they know that their sport does not define them. I accept my lifelong struggle as part of who I am. 4 years later and I have TBI, this does not go away, it is part of me. I will graduate from Luther College this year. Over the last 4 years, I was blessed to student coach many outstanding wrestlers, whose lives I hope have I have made difference in.

 

I knew what I needed to do, so I rested. My parents had me see some doctors, athletic trainers and chiropractic care to help aid in my recovery. They knew how important my goals were to me. So, I rested.

I was cleared after some time to return to wrestling, no residual symptoms, passed all the testing and I was READY. However, my parents and I made the decision to wait some extra time to be cautious.

I waited until the last possible moment to return, Regional finals. I had received a bye that earned me a spot in the finals. I was matched with a wrestler I had been paired against earlier in the year; what could go wrong. I knew everything about him, I studied my previous match and planned my moves. I needed to be calculated as this is my first time back to the mat. My dad paced the mat side, waiting my turn, while my mom was in the hallway pacing. I was ready. It was GO TIME.

2 minutes.  2 minutes was all I lasted on the mat. Vertigo had set in and I fell to the ground. Nausea, blurred vision and frankly I can’t really remember anything, until I was in a waiting room with the athletic trainer and my mom. My season was over, my career was over, everything was over at that moment as I was being rushed to the hospital. How could this happen again, I asked repeatedly.

Over the course of the next 18 months, we traveled again and again, not for wrestling but for doctors. We found answers in Atlanta, Georgia. TBI, Traumatic Brain Injury. I had never really healed, from the previous concussions, so my senior year I was battling a TBI resulting from it. TBI, is not commonly talked about and I really want to raise awareness that concussions can have lifelong consequences. I chose my path; I chose to get back on the mat every time and no one could have probably told me differently.

Now I want to try to be a voice for athletes, so that they know that their sport does not define them. I accept my lifelong struggle as part of who I am. 4 years later and I have TBI, this does not go away, it is part of me. I will graduate from Luther College this year. Over the last 4 years, I was blessed to student coach many outstanding wrestlers, whose lives I hope have I have made difference in.

 

My goals have changed, but my goals are a lot bigger than a medal now. I am creating an all-natural nutritional line through Silver Star Nutrition, that will help you reach your goals. I created 141 Complex with the simplest of ingredients to help sustain your recovery. The name is based off my collegiate weight class I wanted to wrestle in college. That original goal has helped me create new visions for myself, and most importantly my lifelong goals of better health and wellness. Food consumption has a tremendous effect on how your body reacts to certain situations; inflammation and dehydration for example can be crippling to your training yet these can be fixed with optimizing your food intake.

My next release is right around the corner, look for it soon.

Thanks for reading my story,

Bailey