It's my one year anniversary --- one year to the day since I met the front end of a taxi in New York City.
I was walking back to my hotel with a colleague, deep in conversation about a conference we were about to host for the next few days when it happened. The taxi driver was 100% at fault, admitting that he didn't see us as he turned onto 20th from 7th Ave without stopping - even though he had a red light and, as pedestrians, we had the right-of-way!
If you are one of the many people who have asked me this past year how I was doing, I am sure I said “I am doing great! I am about 95%healed and working on that last little bit!” I said that month one, month two, month six and beyond. Heck, I was saying that as I laid on the ground after the taxi threw me15 feet and I landed on my head, "relaxing" in 15 degree weather, shoes somewhere else on 20th, hearing sirens, paramedics and others running up to me and asking if I was ok! All I could say and think about was the 300-person conference I was hosting and how I needed to get back to my hotel to get ready. In fact, I actually showed up and hosted the first part of the conference after pulling an all-nighter in the emergency room!
The truth was, I was not all right. I am your typical type-A executive, who, with a deadline and commitment to fulfill was not about to be stopped by a rogue taxi. But thank goodness for three very special people at the meeting, two board members and one association member, who understood that I was in shock and circled the wagons. They helped me realize I was in shock, that I actually DID have a concussion, and I needed to get home ASAP to my doctor. Thank goodness for a childhood friend who’s an advocate for concussion awareness after her daughter was injured and who happened to see my Facebook post about getting hit. She tracked me down and started educating me about resources and connecting me with them. Thank goodness for the love of my life, my husband. I am grateful for his patience, love and learning with me, by my side, about what a concussion truly is.
I thought once the contusions, bone bruises and other physical things healed I would be fine. And, I could certainly tough out the pain from those. It wasn’t until my neurologist told me that I had lost my ability to multi-process and multi-task that I began to understand that a brain injury is a process and takes time to heal. I remember to the hour when my ability to multi-process starting coming back a few months later.
Throughout all of this, I was earnest when someone asked me how I was and I answered, “95%!”. It was what I really believed. The truth is, I wasn’t.
The past year has been a journey. A journey of understanding who actually steps up when you are down - who checks in - and who does not. A journey of understanding my own limitations. And, a journey of learning patience as I continued to heal.
My recommendation for any business with an employee who has suffered a concussion? Anyone who is competitive simply wants to get back and compete, but doing so is probably the worst thing they can do. Executives are no different. Manage the situation like a professional sports team. Make sure your “team player” takes time off and literally rests their brain. Football players are immediately taken to a dark and quiet environment when suspected of a concussion. CEO, CFO, other CXO, whoever - it’s the same thing. Keeping working is the worst thing you can do if you have a brain injury. Are you and your business ready for this situation?
In case you are wondering, I am doing great now. Really! I am about 95% back to normal. Just working on that last 5%!