[Interviewer] Joining us now, Lesley LeMasurier is one of Dr. Kelly's patients.
By 18 years old she had already experienced 4 concussions.
One was the result of a car accident.
The others were caused her sport of choice, alpine ski racing.
Lesley, how did you get started in skiing?
[Lesley LeMasurier] Well actually, my whole family learned to ski about the same time; I was about 6 years old.
And it was just something different that we wanted to try,
and we all enjoyed it, and we started skiing fulltime
at Wintergreen Resort down in Virginia.
[Interviewer] And so what did you like about it?
[Lesley LeMasurier] I just liked that it was different and challenging and fast--
it was all around very fun, and I just really enjoyed it.
[Interviewer] Now to those of us who aren't skiers, ski racing seems so out of control.
I mean was fear a part of the process for you?
[Lesley LeMasurier] Not when I was younger.
When I was a little kid it was just so much fun, and I loved it.
And as I got older and started crashing more and more often,
there was a little fear involved.
But for the most part, as a kid I just loved doing it.
[Interviewer] So how did you feel about the crashing part in the early days?
[Lesley LeMasurier] It was just part of the sport really.
It was just something that came along with the sport--
you're going to fall if you're going to go at high speeds--
so I wasn't too scared of it.
It just--when I started injuring myself, that's when there was a little more fear involved.
[Interviewer] Now tell us about your very 1st concussion.
[Lesley LeMasurier] My 1st concussion actually was in preseason training.
We played soccer a lot, and it actually came about during a soccer game.
I took a knee to the side of the head--it was a mild concussion.
I didn't lose consciousness, but I was very dazed and confused,
and I just had a headache.
So I was out for about a week--out of training.
[Interviewer] So any other lasting effects from that one?
[Lesley LeMasurier] Not really--I mean I had a headache,
but they all sort of went away, and I went back to training.
[Interviewer] Okay now you experienced 2 more concussions.
What were doctors telling you and your parents?
[Lesley LeMasurier] Not a whole lot, actually.
My parents new nothing about the brain or brain injury,
and they were actually in Virginia--I was in Vermont going to school at the time.
So they were kind of at a distance,
and doctors just said--you know-- be careful and--
[Interviewer] That was it.
[Lesley LeMasurier] It wasn't--you know--skiing isn't a careful sport.
[Interviewer] Right. Tell us, if you would, about the crash that you experienced when you were training with the U.S. Ski Team.
[Lesley LeMasurier] It was a fairly major crash.
I had actually been dealing with symptoms for about 2 years--
I had migraines and was having a hard time sleeping and trouble focusing.
Basically I just crashed so much I actually had a broken leg and some torn ligaments--
my other leg--at that time when I entered the race, but I was just pressured to basically compete and perform.
And I lost--I was unsteady on my left side and lost my balance
and tore through 3 safety nets
and barreled into the woods,
and when I stood up, my helmet was in 2 pieces at my side.
[Interviewer] My stars. Now you said you felt pressure.
You felt a lot of pressure from your teammates?
Pressure from yourself?
[Lesley LeMasurier] All around.
I mean there was pressure from every angle really--
from coaches, teammates, family members--
[Interviewer] Did you tell them that you weren't feeling well?
[Lesley LeMasurier] It was actually something I sort of protected.
I was a little bit in denial about the way that I was feeling.
And it--you don't want to everyday say that you feel sick
because you're going to start sounding like you're a complainer
or making it up--so I just kind of protected--you know how bad I was actually feeling.
[Interviewer] And what was going on in your mind during all this time?
[Lesley LeMasurier] That's when the fear started to really creep in, I think.
Because I couldn't explain--you know what I was feeling to myself.
I just--I had migraines, my heart rate was very high,
and I was having trouble seeing, and my eyes hurt--
couldn't read without getting a migraine.
[Interviewer] Now you said your heart rate was high.
How did that manifest itself?
[Lesley LeMasurier] Well, during training we would train with heart rate monitors on--
when we were--you know--running or any type of workout on land.
We would wear heart rate monitors and workout in zones,
and I basically couldn't stay in the zone.
I just was so much higher than all my teammates and was not recovering.
[Interviewer] Now let me ask you this.
You wear a heart monitor to check your heart.
If the rate of your heartbeat goes up high, that's a problem, right?
[Lesley LeMasurier] Right.
[Interviewer] And did anybody else know that?
[Lesley LeMasurier] It was discussed, but they just thought
because of the other injuries that maybe I was out of shape.
[Interviewer] You were out of shape?
[Lesley LeMasurier] [nods and shrugs].
I'm going to move on past that one. [laughing]
I think you said about--no blood, no break, keep going. And that's what you did?
[Lesley LeMasurier] Right.
When the pressure's on--I mean just basically there's no blood, no break,
I'm going to keep going--period.
That's what athletes do--they push through adversity
and push through the pain and just try to perform.
[Interviewer] And that's what you did?
[Lesley LeMasurier] Correct.
[Interviewer] Did you win?
[Lesley LeMasurier] I didn't.
[Lesley LeMasurier] I ended in MRI scans and was in the hospital, basically.