The dark side of concussions

Published: Feb. 12, 2017 at 9:54 PM CST
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Concussions are something many people think are just a temporary injury, not realizing they can bring on other health issues. A West Fargo girl has been suffering from a concussion induced injury for nearly three years. It's changed how she and her family live.

"I feel like I am not a normal kid," 15-year old Ashtyn Gooselaw said.

Ashtyn is no longer able to attend a full day of high school and would give anything to do that again.

"I get headaches, I get really dizzy, so I'll get dizzy and sick and nauseous," Ashtyn said.

"Five to ten minutes later her face is gray, eyes got big old circles and she turns white and we got to get home," Ashtyn's father, Derek Gooselaw, said.

The symptoms all happened after getting her first concussion in gym class in April of 2014. Seven months later, she suffered another concussion from a sport. Then, a third concussion 2015.

"After the third one, I knew something wasn't right," Ashtyn said.

She no longer plays sports or even attends school all day. Ashtyn said she has ended up in the hospital and on about a dozen different medicines.

"I think any parent or parents would do anything to take the pain away from their kids," Ashtyn's mother, Lindsay Gooselaw, said.

In November, the Mayo Clinic gave Ashtyn and her family answers. The West Fargo teenager was diagnosed with an Autonomic Dsyfunction form called Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). It's when your blood flow, body temperature and GI system are out of balance.

Doctors said the dysfunction was a result of the concussions.

"All the symptoms that they said this is what is going on with her since her first concussion," Lindsay said.

"I feel bad for what I put my family through, but I know it's not my fault," Ashtyn said.

Research says anyone can get Autonomic Dsyfunction but it's more common for white teenage girls.

"You may look like you're fine on the outside but you are struggling," Ashtyn said.

She said it can be lonely and her friends don't really understand.

"They think she is faking it, that's hard, that is hard on her," Derek said.

Ashtyn is in the process of taking a three week bootcamp course at the Mayo Clinic to help learn how to control symptoms and pain.

"I am hoping to get my life back and just get everything back together," Ashtyn said.

"There is more awareness of concussions," Lindsay said."But I really need to look at the effects after having a concussion."

The Gooselaw family said it took years to get answers but they're glad they never stopped and recommend the same to others.

"Do what you think is best for your kids, even if you get a No," Derek said. "Go until you find something!"