Alison Brie lost her sight for several hours at age seven after a concussion

Alison Brie was a guest on the HypochondriActor podcast, hosted by Sean Hayes and Dr. Priyanka Wall. I listened to it for the first time after reading about this episode, and I was surprised at how entertaining and interesting it is. Apparently Hayes is the hypochondriac and he and Dr. Wall interview celebrities about their health issues. Dr. Wall provides medical context although the show adds the disclaimer that it’s not to be taken as medical advice. Brie told a story about suffering a concussion to the back of her head at age seven which resulted in blindness that lasted a few hours. I didn’t even realize this was possible. Dr. Wall explained that there are case studies in medical literature about temporary blindness happening to other concussed children in much the same way Brie described! Here’s part of People’s writeup on this story and you can listen to that episode here:

At age 7, [Alison Brie] was close to losing her vision entirely after a freak incident on the school playground.
“I was a really petite kid [and] I was just running across the playground and not looking and I bumped into another little girl in my class, who was like four times bigger than me,” Brie explained. Her older sister Lauren was there, “thank god,” and brought her to the nurse’s office.

“As I’m walking up to the nurse’s office, I just feel a little out of it. I clearly had a concussion. But I don’t know this at seven or eight, but I just feel out of it and foggy, but I can still see,” Brie said. The nurse had gone home for the day, though, “and the women in the office are like, ‘Just go lay her down and have her close her eyes.’ They put us in a dark room. These women in the office [are like], ‘Oh, she hit her head. We’ll just lay her down and have her close her eyes.’ ”

Wali immediately points out that laying down and closing your eyes is the worst thing to do for concussions.

“You want to keep the person awake because if they lose consciousness, it could be a sign that there’s more serious underlying bleeding,” Wali explained. “If you put them to sleep, you don’t know at what point did they start to lose consciousness? And you need to get a CAT scan and you need to go to the emergency room if you’re starting to lose consciousness after you’ve hit your head.”

Brie started forgetting what happened, and repeatedly asking her sister where she was, “so [Lauren] starts to freak out.” But they’re able to get ahold of their dad, who comes to take Brie to the hospital — and that’s when her vision goes out.

“My dad arrives and I sort of don’t remember anything. Like the next part of my memory is, I’m in the backseat of my dad’s car and boom. I can’t see a thing,” she said. “It’s sort of like how, when you close your eyes, it’s black, but you can a little bit see light and shadows.”

“I was hysterical,” she continued. “I start hysterically crying because I could feel myself trying to open my eyes as wide as possible … It wasn’t computing. And I think that was part of the hystericalness too, was like, ‘Oh my God.’ Like realizing that I was blind. And then sort of just being like, ‘Now I’m just blind?’ ”

The afternoon only got messier from there — as Brie is hysterical and her dad is trying to calm her down, he gets into a fender bender, launching Brie (who thinks she wasn’t wearing a seatbelt) on to the car floor. Forced to stay with the car, her dad calls a family friend who drives Brie and her sister to the hospital.

“I know they did the CAT scan on me and I think they did knock me out because I was just too upset,” she said. “And they told my parents, if her vision doesn’t come back in 12 hours, she’ll likely be blind for the rest of her life.”

“The next thing I remember is, I wake up. It’s been about 10 hours. I wake up in a hospital bed and my parents like shoot towards me in my hospital bed. Like they’re hysterical, [asking], ‘Can you see me?’ Which to me, and at this point I sort of have no recollection. You know, I like wake up in this hospital bed. I can see everybody. I’m like, ‘Yeah?’ “

[From People]

Dr. Wall couldn’t confirm the arbitrary time window that Brie was given for when her vision needed to come back, 12 hours, and said that sounded odd to her. Brie also said that she has had near-perfect vision her whole life and that she sees the beauty in things that other people don’t notice, like clouds.

I’ve told this story a couple times so if you follow the site you’ve likely heard it before. In 2017 I got a pretty serious concussion from a ceiling fan. I leaned over a banister overlooking my parents’ great room and got conked. The next day I was still feeling dizzy so I went to the ER, got a CT scan and a huge bill and went home to recover. I was unable to do highly specific things for about six months. The main thing I noticed is that I couldn’t learn new dances at Zumba or on a dance game I played all the time, Just Dance. I also couldn’t talk to new people and walk at the same time or I would get dizzy. I would feel fine if I was speaking to someone I knew well! I’m very lucky that it wasn’t too serious. It gave me a new appreciation for life. Plus I became more spiritual after that as I started meditating and believing in more metaphysical things.

The way Brie describes her renewed appreciation for sight reminds me of that. It’s like the synapses get stronger as they relearn how to do things. It’s really phenomenal the way the human brain works.

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