Concussion Recovery

by Claire Rae
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As I navigate my latest and most severe concussion I wanted to share a few things that have been helping. I want to use this time to educate people from what I have learned. Let’s not waste this opportunity.

There are a few things that I want to touch on because I think people would be in a better situation if they knew the different ways that they could get a concussion. I didn’t even realize that the last two injuries I suffered came with concussions until this accident happened. I suspected but wasn’t sure until now. The first concussion I experienced was from snowboarding but because I broke my arms I did not consider what may have taken place in my brain when I crashed. After that accident, I suffered a very bad depression as I had never experienced in my life. It was hard to explain but it felt physical. I spoke with psychologists and spiritual leaders and as I was studying psychology at the time you would think I or one of the experts could have figured it out but no one said anything about the possibility of concussion. I started to struggle with focus and with my school and business. I could not handle long conversations. It was a very lonely and hard time that I would not wish on anyone. I think if I had known it was due to a head injury I would not have been as hard on myself and I would be allowed myself to do the resting and the recovery I needed without the self-defeating talk and I would have come out of that better than I did. None the less, a year later I ended up in a car accident that gave me really bad whiplash, that again, I worked on the recovery of my neck and back but did not realize that I had suffered from another concussion. I remember being asked by one doctor but because I didn’t understand that concussions can happen from quick motion and not just from a fall or impact I didn’t give it a second thought. I had to shut BMM down after that because my brain fog was just too much to handle multiple things at a time like running a business like that. Again, had I known it was a concussion, I would have hired the right people at the time rather than shut it down but because I didn’t know what was wrong with me and why I was so slow I couldn’t get the help I needed. All is not lost though because now that I’ve had this third concussion with no other injuries I know what I’m dealing with and can make the most of it by sharing what I am learning with you. Thank God for third chances, lol.

So let me start by going over the ways you can get a concussion. First obviously a blunt force to the head, like a punch or an object hitting you. second, a fall like I’ve had twice, but I want to tell you both times I was wearing a helmet so don’t think you are safe if you have one. The only thing a helmet will prevent is your skull cracking and if the fall is great enough, it may not help with that either. I don’t think I even realized this, but now that I’ve had two helmet concussions it’s true. The third is by the sudden whipping of your head like in my accident but you can also give yourself one with headbanging or shaking your baby like shaking baby syndrome. You need to be careful with your head, and believe me, I’m not one to want to scare anyone and if I was honest I’ve probably been pretty reckless my whole life but what I’ve been experiencing the last couple of years is no joke and can set your life and dreams back and for some, they never recover. It’s been extremely humbling not being able to do what used to seem so easy for me. I believe I will get better, especially now that I know what I’m dealing with but it will take time and although I will likely look healthy on the outside it will be hard to suffer in silence while I wait for time to pass and hope for my mind to recover. It’s also super hard not to be able to do the outdoor sports I love and as I am considering all in all I may never go back. I’m just not sure it’s worth it anymore. Might be time for some things that bring less risk. Anyway… I don’t want to depress you because I have not let this get me down at all, just realistic and honest with myself and am going to use this as a teaching opportunity. Never waste your mistakes.

First, I want to say when I fell, I knew something was wrong but I thought it was going to be ok. I rested for about 10 minutes but then got back up on my board for a bit until I realized I wasn’t steady so I walked for a bit, rested and then got back on my board until I was at the bottom. I got to my car and even celebrated because I made it, thinking I was fine. I went on to have a baking day the next day and although I was quite sore I thought it was just first time back stuff. But then, a few days later I was not well, I tried to go to work but got so nauseous I needed to go to the emergency and the days to follow got worse and worse until I begged a friend to take me to the next town for a CT. I thought my brain was bleeding and I thought for sure I was dying. My brain seemed to have two parts. One side was working my emotions and body which I could not control and the other was my mind telling me I was just fine and to just relax and be calm. I had no control over my body. I had a seizure-like episode in my car (while it was parked, Thank God) but thankfully I was on the phone with my mom who was able to direct me and get a nearby friend to help. They picked me up and took me to the hospital where the nurse thought I was on drugs because I couldn’t control the crying and then laughing spell and my body was limp. It was pretty insane and I was thankful I had a friend that knew me more than a decade to help explain that I don’t do drugs or drink to the nurse or else I don’t think they would have helped me. I’m not going to say that they helped me much though and it took me three visits to the doctor and another out of town doctor friend of mine to finally refer me to get a CT. I’m disappointed in the help I got from the doctors in Revelstoke, you would think they would be experts in concussions being that there is a skid hill in town but this is not to say they were all bad. The last one I saw did help me and he did check-in after I got my CT, unfortunately, I think it was only because my other doctor called. So, with saying that, please take care of yourself and do whatever it takes even if it’s calling someone who already knows you to help. Sometimes it takes a few to get the help you need but don’t give up if you think there is something wrong, you know yourself best. I know for me, I was losing my mind, literally. Anyway, I did get the CT and it did come back clear which, may seem like a waste but as long as I kept feeling that my brain was bleeding I could not get rest. I needed to know and so that helped me cool it and since then I have been taking it easy.

 

Here are some things that I know are helping: Eating clean. I started to make sure I was eating clean as soon as I knew what I was dealing with. I usually eat clean but I needed to make some adjustments because there is a difference between eating for calorie intake and weight management and choosing foods that will heal your body. Plus, it was Christmas time which for me is usually the time of year I eat cookies for breakfast and not feel guilty about it but I needed to stay clear from sugar altogether. I wish I had known before we had that cookie day the day after the fall. I would not eat the cookies. Sugar affects the brain harshly on the most healthy of brains but an injured one needs whole food and vitamin support to heal and function. So here are some things I added right away that I think will help anyone that needs to heal their brain or body.

 

Greens, eggs, blueberries, nuts and seeds, lean meat and chicken and some whole wheat bread. These are the basics I started eating. I lost my appetite in the first couple of weeks because I was so nauseous so I switched to mostly shakes and some toast with almond butter and meat and eggs.


I was seeing some results and then started back eating cliff bars and had some added sugar and my symtoms came back. I started from scratch and slept a full 3 days with only a few waking hours to eat. I read that caffine should be cut so I did that and added a few more supplements. I read some research papers on BCAA’s and TBI (Traumatic brain injury) and our local vitamin shop suggested Lions Mane. Being that I live in a mountain town with the majority of people here that have suffered in one way or another with concussion I thought I better try it. I have also been looking into TB500 peptide but have not tried it yet. 

 

Supplements I have been taking that I believe are helping: Fish oil, Collagen supportGreens, and Protein Powder

Lions Mane– Highly reccommended 

BCAA– Make sure it has no added sugar or caffine

Restore– Stress support with Chinese Hawthorne, Ashwagandha, Bacopa, Vitamin B5,  Calcium/magnesium/ vitamin DB complex, Turmeric

Some other things that I believe have been helping me stay calm and recover have been to not attempt to drive for the first bit. I have been lightly exercising, I have noticed that in my home gym I do better than when I go for walks. The walks seem to take it all out of me and my legs start to get lazy and not want to work. It’s kinda scary so I haven’t been going too far from home. Two weeks in and still feeling this way.. hopefully, that will improve soon. I have also been spending a lot of time in prayer and listening to uplifting motivational Youtube videos to keep me inspired and motivated. I believe God will heal me when it’s time. Faith is huge so not to let yourself fall into a depression, like what happened last time. I just keep reminding myself I will get better soon. I am focusing on what I can do and reminding myself that everyone needs rest from time to time so why not enjoy it. Another thing I found while praying for help and knowledge about my recovery was that light human touch can help. I don’t have a partner to help me with this right now but if you do make sure you get them to run their hands through your hair and cuddle you. When I was having a seizure and my girlfriend picked me up and took me to the hospital she started to run her hands through my hair and it was what calmed my body down and brought me out of it. I found a few studies on this as well to back this thought. So, I might get a massage therapist to help me with this and see if it can help improve my recovery time. In the meantime I found ASMR to be very helpful also. I know there is a lot of creepy sexual ones out there I found this amazing girl this morning that was perfect for where I wanted to focus my attention. I highly recommend her for your ASMR enjoyment and healing. Kind of a Godsend if you know what I mean.

ASMR- which stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. You can look it up further yourself but basically, it’s whispering or touching things with the use of a surround sound microphone. As you listen to the sounds in your earbuds your body experiences tingling in your head, neck, arms and other body parts. for me, it feels like a brain massage. It’s amazing! But, I would be careful about what kind you listen to because just like any other sensory creation you don’t want it to replace real-life experiences. I’m not sure how better to explain that, but hopefully, you know what I mean. For me, I found this girl to speak the right message and have a healing gift. If you are going to listen, make sure you are laying down, eyes shut with your earbuds in.

 

As for staying away from screens and hanging out in a dark place, I think to gage it for yourself. I would go crazy or get depressed if I did either of those and I have noticed that I am doing a lot better than last time simply because I am listening to my body and doing what I can until I need a break. The body is funny like that, it will tell you.

If you have experienced a concussion or think you know someone who may have, be tender with them about the time it takes to recover. The last one took me a year and no one could tell that I was suffering from constant headaches and poor focus. Things that took me minutes were taking me hours to accomplish, it was horrible and embarrassing but thankfully I got a job that needed little of those things I was used to doing. I lived alone at the time which I think was good for me because I had zero energy for anything else after work let alone socializing or a relationship, it was just all I could do to work and sleep. So, please if you know someone like this, be patient, encouraging, and supportive and if it’s you be honest, educate people about concussions and take the time you need so you don’t create an atmosphere where people think you are better when you aren’t. I’m not saying to complain or wine but nicely reminding people you are working on your recovery will go a long way. I am currently staying with a family with a 6 and a 3-year-old so I educated the girls by teaching them about the brain and what happened to me with a few youtube videos. It helped because now they know when I need to lay down it’s not because I don’t want to play but because I DO want to play soon and the more I do to help myself the faster I will be back to normal. It’s your brain, it runs the whole show so if it’s not working nothing will. Stuff happens to the best of us, no one gets out of this life alive so roll with it. There is always a reason things happen even if when never find out why.
Chat soon.

I wanted to mention this, I forgot to put it in the first time I wrote this article because I always roll out. It’s already part of my daily routine but once I had posted on instagram about my recovery and how it was going someone mentioned that simple movements such as nodding and looking sideways has been shown to increase blood flow and help heal the brain faster. I was doing this almost subconsciously as well as using this heated massager. I think between the two of them it has brought me great comfort. 

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