Carolyn Williams, sophomore theater major, from Watertown SD, experienced an event last April that changed her life forever. On an average day for the Stephen’s theater student, she hit her head in an accident backstage.
After backing into a wall and hitting her head, her symptoms were mild if non-existent but, over time became progressively worse. She started to experience dizziness and severe headaches. After a hospital visit, Williams was diagnosed with a minor concussion.
Although she was told to rest, Williams had a schedule to maintain. She needed to complete the Summer Theater Institute and around the end of July, in a high stress situation, she had a panic attack. Something was still wrong.
After getting many opinions from different physicians and therapists, she was finally diagnosed with Post-Concussion Syndrome.
Williams narrows the condition down to this simple definition: “(Post-Concussion Syndrome) happens when a concussion shows symptoms for a few days or weeks, and then it goes into a type of remission, just as some cancers do. Then, the symptoms can suddenly return, much worse than before, and bring new symptoms with them,” she said.
She decided to take a semester off to heal. The healing process was rigorous. Williams’ therapy included going two months with no music, little to no computer or TV use, no driving for two months, and sitting in complete darkness for one hour, three times a day.
After four months of physical and speech therapies, she graduated to doing them on her own.
“What I hope to achieve through this experience is raising awareness of just how serious concussions can be. I feel as though, as a whole, we do not realize what damage a concussion can do until it happens to us. It is a life-long injury, and I hope I can help people who have concussions and Post-Concussion Syndrome fight through it, while also educating others on the severities of head trauma, and how it can literally change a person forever,” Williams said.
Williams is now forced to wear a helmet while doing anything physical to prevent further damage.
Williams credits her family, friends and professors for supporting her in her recovery, which included transportation to countless doctors’ appointments and believing her when she came to them with, what seemed like, an invisible condition. President Lynch has been open to helping her spread awareness of her condition by allowing her to speak to faculty about her experience.
As a way of teaching other about her condition, Williams is starting a blog called Helmet Hair. Within this blog she will be noting her journey through this lifelong condition.