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er, stepping out of the car.Becaus

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    31 de octubre de 2018 22:41:17 PDT

    In 1998, the prime of my career, I was sidelined for roughly three months dealing with what was diagnosed as post-concussion syndrome. Gilbert Arenas Jersey . Its a part of my life I do not enjoy talking about because there wasnt much joy in the months before, or after, stepping out of the car.Because of my experiences, Im often asked to reflect on it when a similar injury arises in our sport.Such was the case most of Friday after the announcement that?Dale Earnhardt Jr.?would miss this weekends race at New Hampshire Speedway because of concussion-like symptoms.Im very sensitive to reacting to a driver in this position because I understand the toll this circumstance puts on someone. Its very difficult for a driver to acknowledge publicly that he is compromised, not feeling 100 percent.And its equally uncomfortable to surrender control of your future, not to mention surrendering your race car to another competitor.Knowing this, I will not venture down the path of what Dale should, or shouldnt, do -- or why, when or where he should or should not return to competition.Every scenario is different and I can only speak to mine, but every driver must be front and center on how they manage this type of injury.What I will share are a few things I learned from my experience that might help Dale in his recovery.(1) You must be your own advocate.Regardless of who you employ to help or guide you through this experience, the urge and temptation to compete will dominate you as your health improves.Its when you feel ready to return that you must pause, self-evaluate and weigh the risks against the potential reward.Be honest with those you are closest to, those among the team that are treating you, but most importantly: Do not cheat yourself.It took me a long time to recover from the residual effects of my three concurrent concussions in 1997. There were good days and bad days, but eventually the duration of good days became commonplace again. But it took a long, long time.My urgency to return ASAP in 1997 compounded my symptoms well past that season and into the next.The insecurity of watching someone compete in my car, with my team, consumed me to the point of making poor decisions. I survived that equation professionally because I was in my early 30s. I most definitely wouldnt have a decade later.Drivers are on a slippery slope when their age starts beginning with a 4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 41. At that point, drivers must choose their battles wisely, so to speak, because a poor decision could accelerate those final innings.(2) Time is your greatest cure.I participated in a plethora of tests and evaluations to the point of feeling vulnerable about ever reaching the perceived target of 100 percent.Head injuries are frustrating. You have no cast, youre administered no antibiotic. You are essentially asking your body to repair itself. But you wonder, is my body capable?The scary thing for me, one that I seldom share, is this: I was preoccupied with having lost a percentage of my skills from this injury-riddled period. I feared I would never be 100 percent again, and that fear created an avalanche of emotion, most of which I chose not to expose -- at least not intentionally.My doctor at the University of North Carolina explained to me that I shouldnt be dominated by the test results -- the percentages of left ear function to the right and the like -- because there was no baseline from where I started. None existed.So your 100 percent could be different from your teammates.From that, I understood I must be clear in what I believe qualified as, feeling better. I had to chart the course and discover eventually where the finish line was in the process. Most important: You are the only one who knows. You literally own this.While the doctor can look in your eyes, read your scans, evaluate the tests, you are the only person qualified to make the decision, Im ready to return.Fortunately NASCAR does have a comprehensive baseline test for drivers today, but its only one measure and should never qualify as the exclusive pass or fail criterion.(3) Your history with concussions matters most.This might be the most important part of the discussion.Your age and your history of concussions should matter most in determining your path forward.I learned through this process that the injuries to the brain are difficult to diagnose and heal.Head injuries can be complex! What seemed more certain were the enhanced risks associated with multiple concussions, particularly when they occur in a narrow time frame.The compounding effects of repeated concussions can, and more than likely did in my case, thwart the ability to recover quickly.What cannot get lost in all this is the trust you must have in your body.If you are having concussion-like symptoms and they are consistent with the experiences of an earlier diagnosis, you must comply with your body and ask for time to rest, time to recover, time to repair.I reached out to Dale immediately upon learning his decision. I applauded him. I admire his courage and always have.The hand he has been dealt this week requires more than courage; it requires enormous patience.It will require deep consideration not only of what professional goals remain ahead but perhaps more importantly his personal goals. 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