The Doctor Who Finally Said He Could Help

Retired soccer star Briana Scurry talks about finally finding hope and help after almost three years of being told she wouldn't get any better.

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[Briana Scurry] Well, 20—2011 and 2012 were very difficult years for me. I—I basically muddled through my life. I wasn't getting much better, but the team no longer existed. And so I was told that I wasn't going to get much better than how I was— but I didn't want to completely accept that— but I didn't really know how to change it, or where should I go, and what should I do? So in 2011 and 2012, I just went back to trying to be normal. What makes me happy—okay, being active. So I started playing softball, I started playing basketball. I started coaching kids and doing all these things and demonstrating goalkeeping, right? Well, every night I have these mind-numbing, brutal headaches. At the end of the day, I still had trouble with memory, I still had trouble concentrating, I took naps every single afternoon to recharge my brain. So even though I was doing stuff and looked fine, I knew I still wasn't fine. And it wasn't until February of 2013 that I finally was led to a doctor— after—after going through, trying to find somebody that could help me— Dr. Crutchfield—went and saw him, and he said, "Okay, tell me about what's going on." So I asked—he asked me questions, and I told him the answers. "How do you feel—do you have trouble sleeping? Do you—are you having trouble with your memory—are you having trouble with balance?" All these things—concussion—the headaches, all this stuff— I'm like, "Yeah, it's brutal. I don't know how I'm supposed to live the rest of my life like this. I don't want to live the rest of my life feeling like that. And then he said, "Okay, let me examine you." So he had me close my eyes, and he would touch my shoulders— and I would literally fall over, like this. And then he reached behind my left ear and touched my occipital nerve, and I practically jumped off the table. And he looked at me, and he said, "I can help you." And right then, I just started crying. Because the way he said it and the way he looked at me— I believed him—I believed that he could— he was finally the one doctor that said, "I can help you— you have this going on—you have occipital neuralgia— you have post-concussive, you have vestibular process—which is your balance— you have all these things wrong." And he's like, "I can help." And—after being told for so many years that I just had to deal with it, to finally have someone actually touch the back of my head and actually test me— and he knew—I believed him. And I—he's like, "Well, you're going to stop doing the coaching— you're going to stop doing lifting—you're going to stop playing softball— because every time you do that, you're making it worse. You're inflaming the occipital nerve—the point that I pushed on the back of your neck." He's like, "You're inflaming it, so you need to just basically sit on the couch and get the remote and not do anything." And I said, "So I've been hurting myself this entire time just trying to— trying to get some normalcy in my life, I was actually making it worse." But I didn't know. So I finally found someone who could help, and I've never looked back. I know that I have things I've got to do, and the occipital nerve surgery was the first step. And I still have other issues, but at least I can see some light now, and I'm in the care of someone who knows what they're talking about. And I'm going to be okay. And that's the first time in 3½ years that I thought that. I knew I was in the right place, finally.
Posted on BrainLine January 22, 2014.

About the author: Briana Scurry

Briana Scurry is widely thought of as one of the world’s best female soccer goalkeepers. After being named starting goalkeeper for the United States women’s national soccer team in 1994, she helped lead the team in two Olympic gold medals (1996 and 2004), a World Cup  championship (1999), and she had 173 international appearances — a record among female soccer players.

Briana Scurry

Produced by Christian Lindstrom, Justin Rhodes, and Victoria Tilney McDonough, BrainLine.