I am 30 years old. I have suffered 10 concussions.
Of those ten, only four of them knocked me unconscious, and only five of them were ski-related.
Back in January, I "rang my bell" a bit on a dub backie into powder.
I tried to rest, avoid screens, and do the whole protocol thing. But almost three months later, I still have a constant ringing in my ears. I have a difficult time remembering details. Luckily, the headaches have stopped.
Yesterday, my neurologist told me that if I have permanent ringing in my ears and some memory problems, I should consider myself lucky. He had many patients with fewer concussions and worse effects. This was a warning shot, and a chance to get out before I do permanent damage. He told me the story of a promising 22 year old motocross pro who had to hang it up because he couldn't get through a day without writing everything down.
He "officially" said I should quit skiing entirely. But we watched some videos and talked for an hour, and later he said I can keep skiing, but hang up the park and the cliffs.
Even if you stomp, he explained, especially on cliffs or on big jumps, you can experience subconcussive blows, similar to taking a football hit. I never even thought about it that way, but it makes sense.
Nobody can ski park forever, and I knew that sooner or later this day would come. It's difficult. But there is a lot more in life to live for than blunt grabs. Newschoolers took me all over the ski world, I got to meet some of my heroes and made some of my best friends. In a roundabout way, going to JOSS set me on a path that ultimately led me to where I am today. I've got my own company. I'm getting married this year.
All of this rambling is to say this:
-If you've had concussions skiing, and you're still young, do some reflection. The next one could be fine, it could just give you permanent ringing in your ears, or it could change your life entirely. Be honest with yourself about whether you can live with that.
-If you are pro, and you have had a TBI, take care of yourself. They aren't paying you enough.
-If you have had TBI's, consider donating your brain to CTE research centers.
-Whether you have had a TBI or not, savor each and every day you get to strap on skis and fly through the air. Nobody can do it forever, our bodies will fail us, but you never know how long you can enjoy that feeling. So if you are fortunate enough to be freeskiing this weekend, be thankful. Be present. And be safe.