Soccer….Family Style


Concussion Recovery: Back to USWNT
November 14, 2018, 6:42 am
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My concussion happened at the start of PDL season, and right before the World Cup 2018. It broke my heart to break my World Cup streak, but we took a previously planned trip to see my parents in Boston, and that flight wrecked me for days. Airports are full of motion, sound, and bright flashy lights… basically a Concussive’s worst nightmare. The trip to Boston was my first sign that something was really wrong. I slept for half a day and still didn’t feel right. There was no way I could handle an international flight and weeks coping with a foreign language. It was only once I started concussion therapy that I began to take account of all the fabulous things brains do, filtering all the noise and allowing us to function and focus.

Even watching the World Cup on TV was too much for me most days. On days of triple games, I’d prioritize one game to watch with the sound off, and the other games I’d watch if I could, but often I was too exhausted for the third match. I spent a solid portion of the Summer in a dark, silent room. I would watch Des Moines Menace games from my car to block most of the sound and shield from the lights and scoreboard, and still left most games in pain, overstimulated.

Attending the USWNT game last night was a huge victory for my concussion recovery. I was able to enjoy the full 90, without ever having to retreat to first aid with a scarf over my head. I was able to meet and talk to other fans. It was all the things. Next step: attempting to sing for 90 with my Sammers family vs England.

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Concussion
November 12, 2018, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Even as an informed soccer fan, I had no idea how devastating one concussion could be until I sustained one earlier this year. On May 17th, I was on my way to pick up my toddler from preschool on a bright sunny day when my car was rear ended at a stop light on a 30 mph road in suburban Des Moines. I know many of you read this blog for my travel adventures, so I will include that I was hit by an unlicensed 18 year old gang member who was high, and had a machete in the car and a gun that spilled out of his car onto the pavement as the police were questioning him. So peak me.

But I was barely processing that at the time, because moments earlier, I had entered my new, permanent home, the world of the post concussed. I didn’t hit my head, but the jolt of being hit at almost 30 mph at a full stop was enough to slosh my brain into my own skull. I remember the officer who happened to be standing 10 feet from the accident telling me to sit down because there was apparently a sizable difference between how stable I looked and how stable I felt.

I felt dazed. I was perplexed that I couldn’t seem to operate even basic functions of my phone to text my husband and call the preschool. I managed to tell Google to call them after repeated failures at texting. But I was speaking clearly in general, and I was able to drive myself home. Yet, I was confused enough to go to the ER to get checked. They diagnosed me with a mild concussion and sent me home with orders to take it easy for a couple weeks. As I write this, I’m chuckling at how much my definition of “taking it easy” has shifted since that day.

On the day, I thought concussion was something you didn’t want to do repeatedly, but generally, I expected a couple weeks of headache and not much else. My house was on the home tour that weekend, and I didn’t see any reason to cancel. My friends rallied to help with last minute cleaning and gardening, and I felt confident I could sit in a chair and talk about my house.

But I was wrong. I struggled with balance, because of damage to my vestibular system. I found myself getting stuck on words. I tried to use the words “stair tread” at least three times, and each time, two different words would come out of my mouth. I’d know they were the wrong words, but I could not get my brain to connect with the right ones. Word finding was a challenge for months.

My symptoms got worse over time. Around the four week mark, when I was starting to think I was losing my mind, a friend finally connected me to someone who said the magic words: Post Concussive Syndrome (https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-concussion-syndrome/symptoms-causes/syc-20353352). She gave me a name for the dizziness, confusion, light and sound sensitivity, vision problems, and anxiety. Even better, she connected me to On With Life Brain Injury Rehab, where I spent the next five months trying to pull my life back together.

I hope to share parts of my recovery with you as I rebuild my stamina for writing and soccer travel. Hopefully, I can help others find help for their concussion recovery. I have come from needing a be in a dark room with no sound and sleeping almost around the clock to writing this from London, fighting a little jet lag, but certainly much closer to my old life than I thought possible for the past several months. With a little luck, some wifi, and hopefully a new power adapter later today (our old one self destructed a few hours ago) I’ll do my best to share this journey.

***Reading is still extremely difficult for me. Eye movement is exhausting, and oh the magical things your brain does to read! Sorry, these posts won’t be proofread for a while, if ever. ❤



Bomb Pops, Party of Five! #FIFAWWC #USA #USWNT #1N1T
June 12, 2015, 4:58 pm
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Three Bomb Pops for Game Day
June 12, 2015, 2:42 pm
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These three…that’s what it’s all about. Happy World Cup game day everyone!



My Story Behind Growing Pains
March 12, 2015, 10:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Oh…that awkward moment the internet tries to claim you’re a shameless self promoter and you realize you haven’t updated your blog since August. But that’s the thing. When I heard Noah Davis was working on a story about people who’d struggled with American Outlaws, I didn’t race to talk to him. Truth is, I discovered at MLS All Star game (my last post) that we are finally expecting our third child this April. This is not the time in my life that I need to create havoc for my family. But it’s been bothering me that I stopped writing about the game I love.

What’s not in the article is that when I announced my pregnancy to my friends via Facebook, someone took the time to create two Twitter accounts to harass me and announced my pregnancy on Twitter before I wanted it to be public. The account talked about my family in unfriendly ways, and at the game in Hartford last fall, and the breach of privacy left me feeling vulnerable. I got the account blocked, but the invasion of my privacy stuck with me and I didn’t want to write any more. It was only made worse when an Outlaw friend of mine private messaged me that the chapter leader (edit: I believe Drew is now ex president) of AO Knoxville was bragging that he’d been behind the harassing Twitter accounts. I sent AO national this information, but their response was that the account had already been suspended by Twitter (at my request). Here was yet another opportunity for AO to reiterate their own harassment policy and back it up with consequences, and they neglected to step up.

So I just stopped posting. I stopped promoting my book. I was exhausted from the pregnancy, so I told myself it was because I didn’t have time, but in my heart, it made me sick that a group I loved and helped grow for so many years had blackened my love of the game. My experiences at the hands of American Outlaws made me not want to talk about soccer…and that’s wrong. It was wrong of me to only talk about it via private message to national leadership. When Noah Davis contacted me and said the article was practically written, but requested a comment, I thought this was a way I could live with myself again. He assured me his message was not to tear AO down, but to talk about the issues that were weakening this growing organization in the hopes that the subsequent dialog would build a better soccer culture.

Flash forward to today. I read the first sentence and closed the window. The couple lines I envisioned in paragraph six was transformed into the reality that I was headlining the article. This is not what I needed at 35/40 weeks pregnant. It took several hours for me to work up the nerve to read it, bolstered by the quotes sent by friends reminding me why I spoke out in the first place….there were plenty of people who shared experiences off the record, but if people were going to harass me on the internet over a pregnancy announcement, I should at least put my voice to good use.

It’s not perfect. There are inaccuracies. But the overall message is on target. Love me or hate me… there’s no room for harassment in sports. Women, all women, should be comfortable being a part of AO. Davis spoke to me and I shared my real experiences. If that upsets you, I don’t know what to say. If your experiences are positive, I’m so happy for you. AO is so vastly different from coast to coast, and my great experiences have outweighed my bad experiences, but they don’t cancel the bad stuff out. How can we have #UniteandStrengthen as our battle cry and not want to do better at all chapters?

The one critical point I want to make is that my family is still AO active. What I said about leaving AO was regarding stepping down as a chapter leader. I didn’t feel like I could be a part of leadership when I didn’t feel like AO Nat’s had my back. I want a strong supporter culture for US Soccer, and there’s no arguing that AO has a place in that culture. We can do better, and I hope the discussion that follows this article is less about denial and more about what the best American Outlaws and the best US Soccer supporter culture looks like.



Pregaming for Netherlands vs Argentina – Family Style
July 9, 2014, 2:18 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

My kids have been pretty low key after chasing around Brazil for three weeks. The three of us haven’t aspired to much other than unpacking, catching up with laundry and friends, and of course, watching soccer. My son, having found fame via his goal celebration, has been telling me he wants to become a YouTuber and make videos for the internet (yes, he’s still six). Well son, consider the gauntlet thrown. My friend, Elizabeth Vantre, posted this trailer for today’s semifinal that’s pretty freaking awesome. Check it out: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10204110052052439



Day Off in Pipa
June 18, 2014, 3:43 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

We had a day off of travel in Pipa after the US match, and decided to spend the day hanging out with friends. We slept in then walked into town for lunch, having already missed breakfast at our apartment. After sandwiches and coffee, we milled around as Doug and the kids went off in search of an ATM that worked and I wrote. We took a swim in the ocean before rejoining the gang at Tribus Cafe for Brazil vs Mexico.

The game ended in a frustrating tie, after so many scoring chances without result, but the crowd was anything but impartial. People were packed into every conceivable corner, standing or sitting on the floor to squish in. We drank Bohemia pilsners and enjoyed the atmosphere created by singing and cheering Brazilian fans combined with people jamming the streets outside, lighting off fireworks either in celebration or frustration. Brazilians are said to have the attitude that “everything will work out.” They certainly seemed calm after leaving what Americans considered important points on the table. It’s refreshing, after the incessant hand wringing of American soccer fans. Up next: Manaus!




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