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Diary of a concussion


I opened my eyes to see a clear blue sky and two men leaning over me to put a brace around my neck. I don't know if I was already on the stretcher or if I was still on the pavement, but there are plenty of things I don't remember. As I would later find out, I had a brain injury.

Was I badly hurt, I asked. I felt as though someone had smashed a two-by-four across the entire left half of my face. The two men on either side of me carefully lifted my upper body to finish with the brace, giving me a view of my legs. I wiggled my left toes, which were more obliging than my lips. It couldn't be that bad, I decided. My spinal cord still worked.

The man on my right — either an EMT or a paramedic; I had no way of knowing — asked if I knew where I was. Was I… outside the Whole Foods? Did I know what happened, he asked. No. Wait… when the bronze car turned left in front of me, cutting me off, I hit the brakes on my bike. It didn't matter, I remembered realizing. I wouldn't stop in time. The next thing I remembered was the sky. I had been unconscious for about 15 minutes.

"She's confused," the guy on my right said to the guy on my left. I had hit my head, the maybe-paramedic told me. I had a concussion. It was a good thing I was wearing my bike helmet. I think he said it then, but he might have said it later, in the ambulance, when he was removing my helmet. In any event, I was going to the hospital instead of my yoga class.

I spent the hours after the crash immobilized and braced, while things I didn't fully understand happened around me. Like most writers, I am a control freak. And like most editors, I am accustomed to telling people what to do. On any kind of normal day, this situation would have filled me with anxiety or fury, possibly both. I had the energy for neither. I was having trouble making memories and also frequently losing consciousness.

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