READ MORE - Grant ready to swoop with Magpies in AFLW
IF Emma Grant had torn her ACL she would have known she'd be facing a 12 month recovery.
If she had pinged a hamstring she would have been sidelined for three to four weeks and then back out on the field.
Those are injuries that have timelines attached to them for recovery.
But for Grant, the severe concussion she suffered playing for Collingwood in an AFLW practice match against North Melbourne in January came with no definitive timelines of when - or if - she'd be ready to play football again.
"Initially, I felt okay and sat on the side and watched the girls for the rest of the day and then went to the WNBL the next day to watch Kelsey Griffin," Grant said this week.
"It wasn't until the Monday-Tuesday that the symptoms started to appear, so it was a delayed concussion, which I had never experienced before.
"Initially, I guess the best way to describe it is just feeling foggy. I had headaches, couldn't think clearly, had a strong sensitivity to light, was feeling very emotional and it was just frustrating being at home and not able to do anything.
"Three weeks later I got some medical advice from outside the club and got in touch with a neurologist and neurophysio to start the rehab, which is obviously very important because when you don't do something for a set period of time your brain gets used to that.
"The headaches were constant and quite full-on at times... I couldn't lift my head from my pillow because the pain was just ridiculous and there were times I'd go to say something and couldn't remember what it was.
"That was frustrating because I knew it was happening and there were certainly some scary moments when you start to wonder, am I ever going to be normal again and if so when?
"Am I going to be alright in six days, six weeks, six months... how long is it going to take? There's no answer to that, so that makes it all the more harder and frustrating to deal with.
"You know with a knee or a broken leg that these are the steps you need to take in regards to your rehab.
"But concussion is a different beast. Everyone's symptoms are different and that's what makes it so unique and why there needs to be so much more research into it.
"I'm glad to say now that I've turned the corner. I'm not yet out of the woods though; I'm continuing with the neurophysicist once a week and the neurologist fortnightly just to make sure I'm ticking all the boxes."
While Grant is on the road to recovery, she's had to make the most difficult decision of her footballing career - to call it quits.
Grant - a former captain of the Bendigo Thunder and one of Bendigo's most notable women's football ambassadors - announced her retirement to her Collingwood team-mates last week.
"It has certainly been a scary time and the only way I know I'm not going to get concussed again is to stop playing football," Grant said.
"What I spoke to the girls about was to not take anything for granted. I think back over the past eight weeks and all I wanted to do was just get out on the ground and participate in the warm-up with the girls.
"Normally you turn up to training and think about how boring the warm-up is, but in the end, that's all I wanted to do and unfortunately, I couldn't get back out there.
"So I really wanted to let the girls know about making sure they enjoy every moment of this experience because you never know when it's going to be taken away.
"But as much as I love footy, it has to come second to your health, which is the priority and I just can't put footy first any more."
Grant, who prior to her career-ending concussion had undergone two ankle surgeries and a shoulder surgery during the pre-season, was a foundation AFLW player with Collingwood having been selected by the Magpies with pick 91 in the first draft ahead of the inaugural season in 2017.
The 30-year-old had played 20 of a possible 21 games through her first three seasons with the Magpies before missing all of 2020 due to her concussion.
Proof of the mark she made at the Magpies, Grant was a vice-captain in 2018 and 2019, while she is noted on the club's website for her "bravery on the field" and footy smarts.
Among Grant's 20 matches for the Magpies was the competition's historic first game between Collingwood and Carlton in front of more than 24,000 fans at IKON Park in February of 2017.
Grant - a PE teacher at Moonee Ponds Primary School - was among four ex-Bendigo Thunder players to play in that first AFLW game, with the Carlton side also featuring Jess Kennedy, Sarah Last and Bella Ayre.
Carlton won by 35 points, while Grant's game ended in the second quarter when she became the first AFLW player to be subbed out for concussion after hitting her head on the ground following a high tackle.
"Looking back on some highlights, there was our first win against the Western Bulldogs in year one that was amazing," Grant said.
"That was a bittersweet day because it was the game Kate Sheahan did her ACL and she is a really good friend of mine.
"I remember having a really good win in Alice Springs against Melbourne in year two, but really, it's all about the friendships that I've made that I'll cherish the most.
"Also to see where the AFLW community has come from over the four seasons and what the future holds for the young girls is amazing.
"Every time I walked into the Holden Centre I had to pinch myself that this is my workplace and where I get to train and I'm certainly going to miss it a lot.
"It's disappointing how it has ended, but I still count myself as one of the lucky ones because I got to represent an AFLW club, live a childhood dream and there's now a pathway for young girls, which is the best part."
It's disappointing how it has ended, but I still count myself as one of the lucky ones because I got to represent an AFLW club, live a childhood dream and there's now a pathway for young girls, which is the best partEmma Grant
While her playing days, which began more than 20 years ago with the Gisborne Rookies in the under-9s, are now over, Grant now hopes to pursue her other great footballing passion - coaching.
Grant has already dipped her toe in the coaching water with the Vic Metro under-16 girls last season and is taking the reins of the Vic Metro under-18s this year. She remains hopeful there will be a national championships carnival at some stage this year on the other side of the coronavirus shutdown.
"I'm looking forward to where coaching may take me and I'm really keen to mentor and develop the next wave of AFLW players and help where I can," Grant said.
"I think being able to give back to the game in terms of coaching is something that's really good.
"I couldn't be more grateful for the opportunities that have come my way through footy. Clearly there have been challenges, but I have absolutely loved the ride."
Have you signed up to the Bendigo Advertiser's daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that's happening in central Victoria.