Concussion Recovery Update

by Claire Rae
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Better and better everyday.

I wanted to come back and give an update on my post concussion syndrome and some of the things I have been doing to get back to full health, mobility and alertness. I can honestly say I am feeling a lot better. I can tell that my mind is doing better by the level of creativity that is starting to come back. I have been slowly feeling the urge to get back to the things like photography, blogging and my usual adventuring. It’s the energy that still comes and goes but there has been a big enough improvement that I can say with confidence that some of the things I have been doing to regain and regrow my 

 

 I want to quickly just give you an overview of some of the symptoms I experience and how slowly I have been able to regain my mind and body. I also want to let you know that everyone experiences concussions differently and there are a variety of things such as the number of brain injuries you’ve had, or where you hit your head, your age and other varying factors. 

 

I’ve had three concussions but this last one was the most severe. From what I’ve read and heard they can get worse the more you have and the older you get. Of course, it’s all subjective as all injuries are unique in their own way but because some of the symptoms may be similar to you or someone you know I hope that perhaps I may be able to help in some way. I want to remind you that every person is different in their symptoms and experience so please don’t assume you know what a person’s reactions will be, how they may act or what they may experience. It’s better to ask someone to explain rather than assume based on something you read or heard. Brain injury can have a variety of subtle to very serious reactions and even cause death so just learn what you can and be open to learning something new each time. I certainly learned this as each of mine were very different. Assumptions are not helpful and can be hurtful.  

 

The first two concussion’s symptoms were subtle and I didnt even realize I had suffered an injury until this last one. The first injury was a snowboarding accident where I broke my arm and hit my head and the second being a car accident where I suffered from whiplash. Although I felt a shift in my thinking and suffered from some pretty intense depression following the first injury, I didn’t realize it was a concussion in either situations because I had other injuries to worry about. The focus was on repairing the broken arm from the snowboarding accident and my neck and back from the car accident that caused whiplash. It wasn’t until my last concussion that I started to clue in with some of the issues I had been dealing with for the last couple years following those injuries. Some of those things were lack of motivation and lack of focus, headaches and minor vision issues. I really noticed it something was off because of my ability to perform. Being that I was a very busy person as a blogger, a full time student and running a business, I could tell that I wasn’t able to manage much of any of it anymore. I would just get headaches, feel tired to the point I simply couldn’t keep my eyes open. I couldn’t handle people or long conversations, my mom really had a hard time dealing with me during this time, poor thing. I just couldn’t do the social things I once enjoyed. Well, not with much grace, I often felt overwhelmed by people and found myself cancelling engagements regularly.  I thought I was just burnt out, and perhaps I was but it was like I just couldn’t do much of anything anymore. I needed a break from school, got ready to shut my business down and felt a very strong desire to simplify my life. Probably well needed and no regrets but it was the physical depression that was the unexplainable and brutal part. I found myself crying for up to six hours a day and just rolling on the floor with pain all over my body. I just couldn’t snap out of it for about 6 months. It was really bad and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I sought all kinds of help and with no relief until one day it seemed to slowly just lift ( a miracle in my eyes ). There were a combination of things that helped, some being mental practices, prayer, lots of prayer and just the usual fitness things I would do. Had I known it was a brain injury I think I would have been a lot easier on myself and probably wouldn’t have suffered as bad mentally. When you can’t perform like you normally do it takes a hit to your whole psyche and identity. Nonetheless it was all part of the journey and part of my story that I hope will help you if you are suffering in some way. 

 

 

 

My latest concussion was again a snowboarding accident and I don’t want to have to say this again because everyone asks, yes, I was wearing a helmet and it doesn’t matter. Concussions happen when your brain gets shot and hits your skull and bruises it. 

 

This concussion blew my socks off and had me in a whole new world of loss of speech, mobility and headaches that make a person want to end it all. It was a very intense first month. I remember trying to go for a walk and making it out to the end of the driveway and just not being able to move; a sort of body paralysis like being a wind up doll but running out of steam. My brain needing time to recharge, sometimes it would take up to 45 minutes. I would just stand there until my body would let me get going again. It was like I would just dip into another world for a little while. I have to say during these times it was pretty peaceful. I would just watch the snow fall or the steam coming out of the houses around the block. It was a kind of reset all on it’s own. I really quite enjoyed it when I wasn’t thinking about the fact that my body was a mess and I wasn’t able to just go for a run when I wanted to. Sure puts things in perspective quick and made me understand a lot of people that had crossed my path throughout my life. It’s crazy to think how different our minds can work individually and after an injury.  This is why I think it’s so important to talk about it because I’m sure there are many people that are suffering and not really understanding what’s happening or how to deal with it. I sure hope this article comes upon the right people that need to read this.

 

You can go back to this post to hear what happened and what I did at first to start the healing process in the first few months with diet, rest and some very light training here:

 

 A Sudden Shift for the better

 

Here are some of the top things I’ve been doing to rewire my mind:

I am now 8 months into my healing process and I do want to say although there has been a lot of improvement there is still some memory loss, slower thinking in terms of ideas and general problem solving. Gaging this can be difficult if you aren’t challenging yourself. At this point my friends and family don’t see the difference but I still do in terms of the amount of time I can handle with people as for energy. I sometimes get ahead of myself planning things only to realize I’m not quite ready for bigger activities yet. In a few more months I believe I’ll be 110%

 

1.Getting outside and going for hike, I started doing this pretty early on with a friend close by. I was very uneasy at first but I knew I needed to challenge my muscles and vision. I was having a hard time with depth perception. Being in the forest there are branches and uneven ground to walk on. As I kept doing these things, although scary at first I was starting to see improvements in my vision. It took a couple of months to feel confident on my own but it just kept getting better and better and now I go on adventures by myself all the time. Yay!

 

https://www.healthline.com/health/exercise-fitness/hiking-brain-benefits

 

2. I made sure I was eating an anti-inflammigtory diet. Cut processed foods, sugar and coffee for the first 3 months. I wish I continued this all the way through because I think whenever I’m feeling tired or low energy again it’s most likely my diet. As soon as I get back on track the brain and body feel amazing.

 

https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/diet/anti-inflammatory-diet-benefits-food-list-tips/

 

3. Playing my guitar. I have never been great at it but just picking it up daily has been helping me retrain my brain to think on both sides. I have always had a love of music and often played the piano as a kid. There is something so healing about playing an instrument. 

 

https://www.classicfm.com/discover-music/reasons-to-play-a-musical-instrument/

 

 

4. Prayer and meditation. 

Obviously I was praying when I got hurt and I had questions about why God would allow this to happen to me but I got many answers quickly and have seen a lot of good come from these injuries. I have had more time to spend with God and get to know Him better. I’m generally a busy person and I think God really wanted to give me the break I needed. He has been providing me with everything I need including time, people to help, finances to cover the cost of recovery and more. I have been meditating on God’s promises in the Bible and it has helped me immensely to focus on my faith and the goodness of God. It hasn’t been easy but I think for me it was necessary to slow down and realign with what’s important. God’s grace has been bringing me through this journey and I’m incredibly thankful for His patience with me while I’ve been learning so many lessons. The lessons have been personal to me so they would be hard to explain but I can see how sometimes seemingly bad things happen to people only to help them see what’s really important and to get a chance to change. 

 

I also want to note that I wasn’t researching what would heal me on google, only asking God daily how to spend my days and this is what I ended up doing. I only did the research after to confirm that I was on the right track or that others had noticed similar results from these practices. God is so good to heal and restore and many times He uses practical things to help us on our journey. He created the system to be able to heal itself with His guidance. We have what we need we just need to ask and He will direct our path. 

 

I hope this encourages someone today that healing and restoration is possible. If you or someone you know has suffered a brain injury, keep praying and believing. Watch and celebrate the small improvements. Focus on the good in the situation and what you do have and it will help you get through the seemingly long healing process.

 

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