The My Legacy campaign was launched to recognize individuals who have made a lasting contribution to research and awareness of concussions and CTE. It encourages others to pitch in and create their own legacy. To learn how to build your legacy with the #MyLegacyPledge click here.
As part of Brain Pledge Month, I'm encouraging anyone who wants to make a difference alongside me to pledge their brain to support research for the brain injury community. My why for taking the #MyLegacyPledge is below.
By Travis Cruey
I played football for seven years, from age 13 through one year of college football at age 20. The first of many concussions I experienced was on the football field. Throughout my football career I suffered several diagnosed concussions and was taken out of many games. At that time head hits were considered a walk it off type of injury so that’s exactly what I was told to do many times. There were times when I experienced these concussions when I couldn’t even remember who we were playing or even where we were at. The ones where I was taken to the doctors seemed to always be the worst. I could tell that mostly because other people were concerned. I know firsthand that just because other people are not concerned and you aren’t taken to the doctor or hospital, it doesn’t mean you didn’t suffer an injury.
After I realized I couldn’t play football anymore, because of the headaches and constant pressure in my head, I decided it was best for me to stop to just focus on my studies. That plan turned out to be more difficult than I imagined. I was not able to concentrate, my vision seemed to always be blurry, and I developed a constant ringing in my ears. The pressure in my head seemed to never go away and I was having a hard time sleeping.
My studying quickly turned into partying and drinking which seemed to make the pain go away. The partying then turned into fighting; I had a constant sense of rage and aggression. It was almost like I was looking for fights. Some of the fights even turned into more concussions. At the end of my first semester of my junior year my grades were so bad that I had to drop out of school. I went back home at age 23 and started working. I worked at several different places until I finally landed at a government contracting job. I worked at this job for four years until my doctors deemed me disabled and I was no longer able to work. I was so disappointed by all of the stress and anxiety and everything was so overwhelming that I started abusing opioids to manage the discomfort of my feelings and the discomfort from the constant pressure in my head.
In 2017, my friend and I got into a serious car accident. I was knocked unconscious and had to spend two days in the trauma unit at the hospital. I was diagnosed with a concussion and a broken hand. This was the hardest hit I had ever sustained, and I haven’t felt the same ever since. The rage and aggression I feel is more intense than it has ever been. The confusion and memory loss are also worse. Recently, I started taking matters into my own hands and stopped self-medicating. I started working on myself.
I know firsthand how it feels to be hopeless and feel that pressure in your head, the ringing in your ears, the confusion, aggression, the depression, the memory loss and most of all the feeling that nobody knows what you’re going through. We can get through this. We can get better. We can all feel a sense of hope especially by listening to other people’s stories and by reaching out to one another. This is not an easy thing to live with. But to have the opportunity to help with the research and to be able to help the next person who is experiencing this life changing event, means more to me than anything at this point. That is why I decided to take the #MyLegacyPledge to pledge to donate my brain to the Concussion Legacy Foundation. This is my contribution to help the next person who suffers a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI). We are all part of this hope. I encourage you to join me and take the pledge at PledgeMyBrain.org.
If you or someone you know is struggling with concussion symptoms like Travis describes, reach out to the CLF HelpLine. Our HelpLine staff provides personalized help to those struggling with the outcomes of brain injury. Submit your request today and a dedicated member of the Concussion Legacy Foundation team will be happy to assist you.