Concussion has been called a silent or invisible injury. None of this mystique helps when you’ve been hit on the head.  I think it’s the unknown nature of this injury that makes it so scary, not only for people who have a concussion, but also for anyone close to a person with a head injury. You see, normally when you go to the doctor with a problem the doctor listens to your story, takes a close examination of the affected area of your body, then recommends treatment. MRI and CT scans can be used to see if your brain is bleeding, but it seems that most of the information doctors are able to get from a concussion patient come from self-reporting. Reliable reports such as, “yes, that does make me dizzy.” and “Can you repeat that?” are probably consistent replies from concussion patients, but we’re talking about a pretty limited bank of knowledge. (I can’t remember most of what I hear, but I can still see irony!) I think this is one of the biggest stressors affecting people who have an injury to the brain. Once or twice, it has occurred to me that no one actually knows what happened to my head.  Well, rather than allowing yourself to panic over the lack of definitive treatment, I offer this blog as at least a conversation from a somewhat reliable, definitely honest source, a concussed brain. I don’t have any magical answers for you, but I can speak to my own experience. (Note: it has taken three days to get this far, but I’m going to keep at this post tomorrow because, I have a point: there are things you can do to help your brain get better- maybe even better than it was before, but you’ll never actually know, because you’ve probably forgotten what your brain used to be like! )

One thing I do want to say is that it’s important to take stock of what you can still do. In the past, I loved to write. Now I struggle to keep up with the most simple conversation, but for some reason, my voice still comes out in writing. That’s pretty amazing to me. Look for something that you feel strong in, and use that skill to develop your brain. The difference between oral and written language has significant meaning to me now. I can use my long term memory, combined with the slow pace of my working memory to write. Conversation is too fast, listening, thinking (and chewing gum) at same time all put me into overload, but for now, I can write. I know that there are different aspects of memory, long and short term, working memory, but to see such a drastic separation of functions in my own mind, it is truly mind-blowing. I picture a fault line somewhere between two brain structures. The gap my poor neurons have to leap to put info into long term storage is a little bit too big right now, but I’m working on it. Actually, I’m doing what I can to rebuild strength in my brain by writing.

My brain workout is a bit random, but here is a list of the things I try to do every week:

  1. Exercise: Circulation is good. Too much hurts, so keep it light, but do it every day.
  2. Quiet: I spend most of my days doing solitary, but productive things like drawing, yard work and baking. I don’t nap, but I do go to bed pretty early. Sleep is important for a healing brain.
  3. Yoga and Meditation: I enjoy yoga because of it’s personal nature-there is no need to push yourself to keep up with anyone else, and it feels good. I know meditation is good for you, it is a way of resting your brain. I find it very challenging, but I’m working on it.
  4. Social activities: I make a point of meeting up with friends for short visits. It’s very challenging to balance the amount of talking I can manage- I love to talk (believe me, I could be a professional talker) but I still can’t handle cross-conversations, with more than one person talking. I do try to expose myself to short periods of noisy chatter. I think the key is to gradually increase exposure to anything like this that hurts your head. It’s important, and it’s really tough.
  5. Cranial-Sacral Massage (with a registered massage therapist who specializes in this treatment): It is not relaxing nor comfortable, you feel pretty rough for the 24 hours following this treatment, but once/week it takes the pressure off my head and I feel like I can think a little more clearly. Similar to my quiet time spent drawing, this massage seems to be moving me gradually into the right direction.
  6. Counselling: Whether you work with a psychologist or have a good friend to talk to, it’s important to have a chance to discuss/vent/process the experience you’re going through. Don’t let yourself do this alone, it’s hard work. If you don’t have a support network, make it a priority for yourself.

I am not able to work right now. I love, love, love my job, and I can’t do it, yet. So, my current job is to take care of myself. It’s full-time work. I seem to have this need to help others built right into me, so I hope this post helps someone today. It took me a little while to complete it, and I am probably repeating myself, but if you know someone who is struggling with post-concussion symptoms, maybe you could share some of the information here with them.  Take care, and I’ll be back soon.


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