Ian Leonard, left, with Bill Fish of Special Oympics Minnesota in 2012/ by Sara Glassman
If you thought Fox 9's chief meteorologist Ian Leonard's absence from the air for nearly nine weeks was due to a long vacation in the islands, you couldn't be more wrong.
Leonard has been sidelined by post-concussion syndrome, a frightening, frustrating challenge that has forced him to spend almost the entire day in a dark room, unable to watch TV or even read a book.
Leonard, who has been with the station since 2006, was playing goalie at the Minnesota United fantasy camp in October when his nose ran into another player's fist. He thought he had simply broken his nose and continued to play. But a few days later he was feeling worse. The bright lights of the studio were killing him. He felt dizzy.
His doctors, who also happen to work for the Minnesota Wild and Minnesota VIkings, diagnosed him with post-concussion syndrome, a traumatic brain injury that can haunt you from anywhere to five days to five years.
The only road to recovery: A complete relaxation of the brain, which means little to no stimulation. For weeks, Leonard sat alone in the dark, sucking on hard candy and listening to iRadio. Anything beyond that triggered massive headaches and a ringing in the ears.
"I could barely walk," Leonard said.
Then on Saturday, he woke up feeling 100 percent better. He now plans to return to work on Dec. 9. In the meantime, he's going through the hundreds of cards and emails from loyal viewers.
"The support I got from people, I can't even verbalize how I feel without tearing up a bit," he said on Wednesday.