TBI One Love Survivor Jaclyn Smolik
Hello everyone, my name is Jaclyn Smolik, and I am from Houston Tx.
I played sports growing up, specifically soccer where I received a couple concussions but they resolved without a problem. I went to play college soccer and March 2019 of my junior spring season I got another concussion. I didn't report it to the trainers and kept training. My symptoms resolved with no issues but then 2 weeks later on April 13th I was playing in my final spring game and received another concussion. This time the symptoms were worse and did not go away. I had to get through the remainder of the semester and finish finals at school with the worst symptoms. Once I got home I saw a sports medicine dr. who told me to rest and do nothing.
This only made me worse. I finally saw a Neuropsychologist who referred me to vestibular therapy as well as PT. Things were getting so much better and I was starting to exercise again until hitting my head on my car door on my way to PT June 2019. Everything declined again. A couple weeks after that is where alot of my mysterious symptoms started. I had thought I pulled my quad during PT and after that it was a whole chain of events that lead to tremors, weakness, and weird sensations that led to balancing issues as well as walking. No one knew what was happening and I saw multiple drs and had multiple tests done that all came back normal.
I ended up seeing an upper cervical chiropractor which started to make me feel better, and in turn my body followed. I got released for return to play in august (I knew I was not ok but I wanted to play my senior soccer season so badly). The first practice back my teammate jumped on me and hit me in the head. Everything declined once again and I was done. I ended up going to school my senior year trying to manage the horrible symptoms I was experiencing along with major depression from missing out from soccer as well as what everyone else was doing to enjoy their senior year. I had no idea what was wrong with my body which put me in a terrible mental state. I had chronic insomnia which was making me feel so much worse.
Over Christmas break I started vestibular therapy once again which made me feel better but at the same time I was having issues with exercise not only from the muscle issues but also getting the feeling of fainting as well as tachycardia. My doctor thought I probably had some sort of dysautonomia which can happen after head injury.
Throughout this entire experience I had been listening to the Complete Concussion Management podcast which kept me hopeful that i could recover, i just needed a new set of eyes, someone who 100% understood concussions and someone to look at me as a whole. I ended up finding a PT who was CCMI certified and made my appointment March 2020. This was the biggest game changer in my recovery and I owe literally everything to this guy. He found I had vestibular, oculomotor, neck proprioceptive issues as well as the exercise intolerance he thought was probably hormone related. We started therapy together.
I found out I needed contacts which was a game changer. He also referred me to an endocrinologist to get my hormones tested and as I began receiving treatment from the her, i started getting a lot worse and once again we had no idea what was going on but I knew something was wrong. At this point I had had multiple MRI's and CT's, EMG's, countless amounts of blood work, I had seen a neuromuscular doctor, a couple neurologists, ENT's, multiple endocrinologists, multiple PT's, and multiple Chiropractors. At this time I started working at a full time job at a physical therapy clinic as I was applying to PT school. I realized that was the push I needed to get back to normal life and it was also a good distraction for me to take away from how bad I felt.
After multiple other rounds of blood work we found out October 2020 I was overdosed on thyroid medication that had been prescribed to me as well as Vitamin D. I was also put on birth control unnecessarily. I fired that endocrinologist and began working with a PA to get me down from the overdose. One thing that wasn't sitting well with me was I had never had my growth hormone properly tested and that was the one hormone my PT was suspicious about. I fit the profile of the symptoms and as we kept messing with my hormones, it affected the way my muscles felt. I was also noticing low blood sugar issues and what I ate/when I ate was affecting my muscles as well. I came across a neuro-endocrinologist from Massachusetts and connected with her. She ended up referring me to a study in Galveston for growth hormone and after the test revealed that i wasn't necessarily deficient but my level was in a grey zone that was questionable. I began taking injects through this 6 month study in February 2021. I also started vision therapy with a neuro optometrist which was a game changer.
I stopped working at the PT clinic and began waitressing. It was rough at first but as I have been correcting so many things with rehab I am at a very good place. As of right now I am on growth hormone, still working with my PT, getting adjustments from my chiropractor and am finishing up my eye therapy program.
I am in a great place in my recovery and will be starting PT school this coming august.
Thank you for all you do TBI One Love and allowing me to join your family!
If anyone would like to contact me, please reach me on Instagram at: @ jaclyn_mtbi_recovery