Lindsay Corley is not a football player or a member of the armed forces. Her job as an editor at CNN, while fast-paced, is decidedly low-contact and lacks physical risk.
That is what makes the story of her brain injury, documented recently in a CNN story, particularly compelling: it falls squarely in the “it can happen to anyone” category.
As is sometimes the case, it begins with an injury that goes unnoticed.
‘My Mind Felt Foggy’
An unexpected blizzard hit Kentucky as Corley was driving on Feb. 19, 2012. In whiteout conditions, her car skidded across the highway and struck a guardrail. She felt lucky she was able to step out of her car seemingly uninjured.
A week later, she began to feel sick to her stomach. Light and sound pierced her head and brought pain. Sleep was difficult. When a friend suggested she had suffered a concussion, Corley repeated an oft-assumed but inaccurate thought: that a concussion only occurs when a person is knocked unconscious.
It got worse. After she was diagnosed with a concussion, Corley was unable to perform basic tasks most of us take for granted. She couldn’t focus on the words other people spoke, and she blurted out things she didn’t mean to say. Her balance and coordination were off. And when she sat down at a computer, the woman who wrote and read for a living found she could no longer make sense of written English.
“… I will never forget that feeling of utter devastation as I gazed into my computer screen,” she wrote in the article. “I was a journalist, a graduate student, and a writer, but I could not read a basic declarative sentence. The words just didn’t make sense to me. My brain wanted to read in the direction up to down instead of left to right.”
Road to Recovery
Corley needed the help of others to perform basic tasks. It was only through the help of friends that she completed her schooling. She couldn’t send an email or even be trusted to remember to turn off the stove after cooking. She went from doing to simply being, as she described it.
She is undergoing neuropsychological testing so doctors can get a more complete picture of her brain and how it is functioning. Overcoming a concussion, she says, is like “waking up from a dream.”
More than a year later, Corley says she’s 85% recovered. Her doctors don’t know how much of that remaining 15% is attainable.
A Cautionary Tale
Corley’s story is a candid look at the assumptions and realities surrounding traumatic brain injuries. It is also a first-hand narrative about what it is like to live every day with a brain injury that affects all aspects of life.
At the Brain Injury Law Center, we know that serious brain injuries can result from what appears to be a minor accident. We want everyone else to know this, too, and that’s why we are sharing this CNN story with you. Share it with others so they know a concussion is not always obvious.