Journey Bailey is a former high school football player and a survivor of second impact syndrome (SIS). SIS occurs when the brain swells rapidly, and catastrophically, after a person suffers a second concussion before symptoms from an earlier one have subsided. This second blow may occur minutes, days or weeks after an initial concussion, and even the mildest grade of concussion can lead to SIS. I suffered this same injury back in 2007 and our stories are eerily similar. After listening to this interview, I recommend downloading episode 37 with Brett Wycinski who is also a survivor of SIS.
I contacted Journey to come on the show after finding his Huffington Post article this past summer, which details his experience with SIS during his sophomore year of high school and how it has affected his life since the injury. I knew if Journey spoke anywhere close to the level of his writing that this would be a killer interview. It is safe to say he didn't disappoint! Journey is currently finishing up his degree at the University of Texas at Austin.
“I would look up to players like Jerome Bettis growing up and thought running people over was the coolest thing”
Journey played fullback and middle linebacker just like I did, which makes me wonder if certain positions are more prone to these type of head injuries. Like most fullbacks, Journey loved laying the heavy hits on his opponents, even when he was running the ball (sounds like someone I know...).
Below are some topics of conversation Journey and I touch on in this episode:
The events that lead to Journey's SIS.
Journey's recovery from craniotomy surgery to address the subdural hematoma he suffered.
Journey's cognitive struggles after the injury.
Why Journey is thankful for South Park and Family Guy.
How dents started forming in Journey's skull after surgery and why it made him feel like a freak.
Why the absence of his football identity lead to a lack of motivation.
Dealing with the concern over the possibility of deteriorating mental health.
What ingredients go into the perfect cocktail of hopelessness and despair.
The role rap music played in Journey's transition to life after football.
Why its important to occupy your mind and find meaning in every day.
The role bikram yoga plays in Journey's life today.
Journey's concussion history prior to SIS.
Team vs. individuality and why masculinity is standing up for yourself.
Blind toughness vs. eyes open toughness.