Advice on keeping your head up...

healing comes in waves
and maybe today
the wave hits the rocks

and that’s ok,
that’s ok, darling

you are still healing
you are still healing.

- Ijeoma Umebinyuo, be gentle with yourself.

If I could take one lesson from what the past 9 months have taught me, that would be it.  You can’t rush your body’s ability to heal itself, and you better have some serious patience in the meantime. 

I learned this lesson slowly over the course of the months from November 2015, to April of 2016, while more or less sitting in a dark room listening to podcasts and audio books.  No TV, no computers, no bright lights, little social interactions and no vigorous physical activity. 

“You have to rest your brain so it will heal”; “No multi tasking”

All of these things are so much easier said than done.  

So why was I sitting in solitude in a dark room with nothing to do but listen to audiobooks?  Well….that’s the slightly humorous part of the whole mess.   One November evening in 2015, I was leaving work, with my head down buried in my phone, texting and walking…and BAM…face-first into a brick pillar.  I walked away with my forehead split open, bleeding and swollen, and my ego slightly bruised.

It was the confusion and constant state of being in a fog for the next week that became worrisome, more so than the gaping wound to my head.   I was eventually convinced by some friends, and my persistent mother, to get checked out at the physio clinic for a concussion.  I did the SCAT Concussion Test, which involves a series of questions and tasks, I failed miserably.  

I was off work, with no timeline for how long I would be off.  I was in a fog, confused, emotional and upset at why I didn’t feel like myself.  I had headaches almost all of the time, I was anxious,, irritable and impatient over when I would start to feel better.  One of the biggest challenges I had was the fact that people couldn’t see my injury.  Once my forehead healed, I was receiving comments from friends who came to visit like, “well you look ok? At least there’s no scar”…meanwhile I felt like an entirely different person, unable to keep up with conversations, and fearful people thought I was ‘faking’ my injury.  This was mostly because I was finding it almost impossible to verbalize exactly what I was feeling, and could only say, “I just don’t feel right” which, at that point, was a vast understatement of what was going on in my poor, bruised brain. 

An analogy that made sense to me was this: when your brain suffers an injury, all of the various filing cabinets that store all of your memories, your knowledge, your skills, all of your abilities, are knocked over.  As your brain heals, all of these files are slowly being put back together, and re-filed in order, in the proper cabinets.  Some of the files get strewn over the floor, some of them get crumpled under other cabinets, and some are fine.  I like to picture the little Doozers from Fraggle Rock working away inside of my head,  sorting and fixing up all of the files I knocked over.  

Concussions require the utmost patience, and trust that your body will heal itself, you just have to give it some time.  I hope you enjoy this episode of Sick Boy about my brain injury…if you take one thing away from it it should be this…keep your heads up!

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