Healing is work

I met with a counsellor about six months, and he so angered me with a  comment meant to inspire me: “You’re almost there, now this is where the real work begins.” He told me that this head injury was my Mt. Everest, and although I had made it to base camp, the hard work was about to begin. I was so mad. And he was so right! (@#$%^)

I hate analogies. Even without at head injury, I have always preferred people who get the point. But I have to say, I finally understand his point, and it was a pretty good analogy. Six months ago, I was sure my concussion had healed- it was only a concussion, after all, not a serious brain injury, so I thought. Surely, it should have healed after three months. I was so wrong. I can now, with absolutely no doubt in my mind, state:

If you are trying to heal from any kind of head injury, no matter how severe the impact to your head, you have to work at it. It doesn’t just happen automatically.

Someone surely has written a book on this, but it’s just so hard to read when you have a head injury, so it wouldn’t matter anyway. If you are looking for ways to help someone with a head injury, or if you yourself have stumbled upon this post, please consider these discoveries that I have learned through my own brain work:

  1. Actively work at a program of brain workouts : Rest is important, but resting all day does not do anything for neuroplasticity, and over-use doesn’t give nerve cells time to heal. Figure out what will work for you. Choose activities that stimulate the brain in a healthy way: journaling, logic puzzles, Sudoku, reading, listening to podcasts or music, drawing, even just colouring, all are gentle ways to stimulate your brain. When you are first injured, you’re going to be able to handle about 5 minutes at a time (thus the name of my blog.) Over time, you’ll be able to last a little longer, but if you push it, your endurance will not improve. Watch for warnings (headache, dizziness, ringing ears, pressure on your temples etc.) If any of these symptoms increase, get up and move around, and don’t go back to the activity until your symptoms start to calm down. Listen to your body.
  2. Pay attention to any secondary injuries: I don’t think you can have a head injury without straining at least some of your soft tissues. Neck and shoulder pain doesn’t just go away. The muscles holding up your head just get tighter, pull on other parts of your body, and if you don’t have treatment on them, you’re going to end up with pain in weird areas, like a hip or a heel, and then it will hurt too much to exercise, and then you’ll be in a bad mood. So, try Physiotherapy and MASSAGE THERAPY… I am literally going to bake a cake for my massage therapist tomorrow- I can tilt my head up and down now for the first time in ages, and I feel like a new person today.
  3. Structure:  You’re going to hate this one. When you have an injury to the brain, there is a bit of a spacey state of mind that is not an altogether bad thing. In fact, the things that normally stress people  ( money, being late, worrying about money or being late) well, they don’t really seem to register when you’ve had a head injury. Having a poor memory is sometimes a blessing!  But if you want to get better, it is important to create some structure for yourself.  Make plans for your days, write everything down, and get as organized as possible. Do your best to avoid having to make decisions on the spot. As your brain heals, you will gradually be able to think critically again, but for now, create a structure for yourself around the basics: Eat well, get exercise, work at activities that are good for you and be patient with yourself.

I will leave you today with a picture from my part of the world. It’s nothing flashy, just a nice way to end the day.


2 thoughts on “Healing is work

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