Life lessons from a concussion

While biking home two weeks ago, I collided head on with another cyclist on Kelly Drive and suffered a concussion. I spent the next week at home on cognitive and physical rest with a “screen ban” in place.  No texting, no reading, no television, no thinking, no running. It sounded daunting. But that week off the grid got my head back together and taught me a few things.

1. There are nice people out there. Be one of them. Can you believe that the cyclist who hit me stayed until help arrived, admitted that the crash was his fault, and emailed to check on me after the accident? Also, not one, but two friends, happened upon the aftermath and helped me get in touch with my family when I clearly didn’t remember why I was sitting on the bike path and that I have a phone on me. Nevermind that the ambulance never came, but I am reminded again that how you treat people on a day-to-day basis is how you make an impact in this world.  I am so fortunate that I have a job where I help people, and I hope that my students will find a way to contribute to the common good, too.

 2. If you ever want to know what you’re about, don’t do anything for a week and then see what you miss doing the most. I didn’t realize I can drop everything at once. It turns out it’s okay if I don’t read the paper everyday, but I need to interact with people. It turns out what I miss most is running after my toddler, not running marathons. Since the accident, I’ve cut down my blog roll significantly. So, if you’re curious about what is essential, what you need to be spending your time doing, try deprivation.

3. Worrying is not productive. Keep in mind the big picture. I couldn’t reply to emails while I was concussed, and felt stressed knowing that there were probably important questions in my inbox. But everything turned out okay. My wonderful colleagues pitched in, and many students found answers to their questions marked “urgent,” or they emailed me to say that they can wait until I get healed up (thanks!). My career is not over because I let go for a week. The biggest thing I learned from doing nothing for a week is just to step back and worry less.

Author: Helen Cheung

Helen Cheung is an Associate Director in Career Services for College of Arts & Sciences undergraduates.

2 thoughts on “Life lessons from a concussion”

  1. I especially like #2- I couldn’t run at all this summer due to an injury and realized just how much I love it. You were lucky (well, luckier would have been not colliding at all but still) that the other cyclist stayed with you. I see drivers and cyclists swishing around campus and many times they are so so so close to colliding. I’m glad you were okay, I’m guessing you wore a helmet?

  2. Oh yes, I wore a helmet. I’ve fallen off my bike twice in my adult life, and both times, my helmet hit the ground and saved my head from worse injuries. I am totally lucky.

    But ugh, no running the whole summer?! It must be great to be back on the roads. Thanks for your comment!

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