Saturday, 15 July 2017

Concussion Part 2 - The long and winding road

About 2 weeks ago I wrote the beginnings of this blog. It has taken a few twists and turns since then, but I thought I would write it as I did on paper, starting from where my last blog (
Part 1) left off.
After my second appointment with Insight I felt maybe I could get back to work part time before the end of term as one of the OTs suggested that was a possibility. I was very keen to get back, missing the staff and students, and to be honest, getting a little lonely being at home all day even though my children are around for some of it. I was still struggling with a lot of symptoms and they were really getting in the road and annoying me.

The frustrations (two weeks ago):

Driving: Even a trip down the road to the library is a mammoth task. It takes a lot of concentration to drive and I feel so tired afterwards.
Decision Making: I can't think on my feet. Anything sideways throws me.
Emotions: I am up and down, in tears, smiling, not knowing what will happen next.
Fatigue: I am so tired, even with sleeping long hours. Going places or being with people makes me feel like a vacuum cleaner is sucking the life out of me, I just get so tired.
Nausea: Any movement makes me feel sick. For those of you who have had morning sickness nausea, it's like that all day. I had issues with the earthquakes and my balance and I feel the same now. My balance is seriously messed up.
Cancelling things: Having to not go to things that I had planned. Having to organise not going!
Split thoughts; Wanting to do things sometimes and knowing that maybe it's not the best idea.
Noise: I am certainly sensitive to noise. One day the neighbours had their drive laid and I almost had to leave the house. Luckily it stopped before it got too much.
Lack of reading: I am normally someone who reads a lot, whether it is an article or a book, I am always keen. This has certainly slowed me down as I can only read for a short time.
Feeling like a very old person: I am quite slow and sometimes feel a bit like a fraud sitting around all day, but I really just can't do things.
No screens: Not watching TV, using a computer or phone takes a large chunk out of my normal pastime so it's hard to think of doing very little.

The positives: (yes there are some positives!)

Learning to relax and do calming things
Taking time to go for a walk each day
Writing this blog
The amazing support from other people. Having others who have been there before has been a huge help. To know that what I am experiencing is "normal". Which is the main reason for writing my blog - I am hoping this will raise awareness and help others.
I am improving all the time. It's slow, but it's happening.
Not drinking alcohol. I must say I do miss my glass of wine sometimes but I really have not felt like any alcohol at all. Can't be a bad thing.

After I wrote the above, I finished my last blog and posted it to my Facebook page and my Education page. I spent a bit of time online and watched an amazing video aboutClark Elliot who had concussion for eight years (makes me shudder just thinking about it), just about lost his job, family and life, and then was put in touch with a woman who worked with him and in 3 weeks he was back to 70% of his old self. He has written a book that I mentioned in my last blog and I looked up a few articles on neuroplasticity, thinking, I wish we had someone like that in Christchurch. Within a couple of hours I had a post that was about to change my recovery. An old school friend (Natoya Rose) posted a comment that I am sure she won't mind me quoting 
Doing nothing doesn't actually do much at all. If you think about the result of these injuries severing or damaging the neurons in the brain, meaning that information does not get processed and utilised in the same way, and a diminished capacity to perform results. Unless you do receive and appropriate therapy, which understands the mechanism of what is going on here, it can indeed take months or years, and some people never recover from them. The bottom line is that the function of neuroplasticity can be utilised in facilitating the brain to restore these severed connections. And that one doesn't take months or years. In most minor injuries profound improvements can be seen from the first therapy session.

This changed everything. I contacted Natoya Rose from Visual Perception and she came round that afternoon and I had my first session with her. Before we had finished I felt the fog lift and my fatigue basically disappeared. I couldn't believe it, it was like magic. I felt so much better. Over the next few days I could do so much more. Still not 100% but certainly felt very different. My next appointment with Insight was me telling them I wanted to work with Natoya as my provider instead, so I changed to her and also sorted with ACC to get my neck seen to. The team at Tower Junction Physio are amazing and already the headache from my neck has gone and I am sleeping better. After my second session with Natoya I am still on the improve and am managing to do a lot more in my day. The nausea is less and I am managing more time with screens. There are still frustrations of not driving too far, or lengthy reading, but I can do so much more in a day. This article from Natoya explains a bit more about the process she works through.
So I have made many steps. Each day I have been doing one more thing to see how I go. I did push it a bit far last week - went over to school to say hello. So desperate to see students and staff and feel like I was going to be able to get there soon. Unfortunately it just proved how not ready I was just yet as the next day I paid for it by not being able to do much at all. It was worth it though, in a weird sort of way. I miss my job.

So here I am, almost seven weeks down the track, still colouring in but certainly on the mend and getting there quickly with the help of Natoya. Another of my friends, Marc, commented on my last blog with this gem:
 If you consider that everything happens for a reason, then you might want to take the time to evaluate what's most important to you in your life. It clearly isn't being 'crazy busy'...hell, that's just a way of distracting yourself. To think clearly you need to empty the mind, heart and soul of all the minutiae which ultimately doesn't really matter. Take stock of where you are and where you might like to be headed. 

Indeed, having all this time at home has given me the time to reflect and think about life, the universe and everything. It has made me look at everything through a different lens. I do believe in fate and this turn of events was obviously sent to challenge and change me. It has got me thinking about what I do and why, how much I do and what for. I have thought long and hard about what I do every day and what is worth doing in this life. This has shown me a lot about myself, some of which I was not really prepared to see or to admit to. I found out who my friends are and where the support is when I need it, as well as how bad I am at asking for help. It's made me think about friendships and the different levels as well as the way those levels all work.

How often do we get weeks to stay at home and think about things? This is a blessing in disguise in a weird sort of way, a challenge and an amazing time that I have to reflect on my life. My road is looking better.