A Tool to Support You in Healing After you have received treatment, or are feeling better, and are no longer feeling like your concussed/traumatic brain injury (TBI) self, you may find yourself still holding back or saying the words “I can’t.” It was a traumatic injury, sometimes the recovery can feel traumatic as well. You may have had many months while healing from your TBI where you struggled with various aspects of your life, including but not limited to, calling in sick to work because of headaches, forgetting important events, not remembering a word during an important presentation, inability to run on your treadmill due to dizziness, and feeling too tired to take care of your kids. Subsequently, you learned to set limitations for yourself. For this reason, once you’re feeling like yourself again, it can be a difficult transition to the new you.
Everything Changed After My Brain Injury Past patient, Anna Empey shares her experiences in a series of blog posts including "10 Things I Wish I had known Before my Brain Injury", "Journaling Through Recovery" and here in this post. I lived with post-concussion symptoms, from two separate brain injuries, for almost five years. It was one of the hardest periods in my life, trying to make it through each day, dealing with the migraines, and fighting to live a somewhat typical life. My second injury, which was about three years into recovering from the first injury, had pretty intense impacts on my life. I pretty much quit everything I was doing. I had to keep my job and focus on working 40 hours a week, dealing with constant exhaustion and fatigue. I started avoiding crowds and people in my daily life, and, eventually, I stopped communicating much with anyone because finding words was hard. I also lived with light and sound sensitivity along with short and long-term memory problems. At this point, it was hard to see the glass half full, and I pretty much lived like my glass was half empty.
Discover a new level of understanding around concussions and how these injuries impact the lives of victims and their loved ones.
Acceptance is the ultimate goal with regard to the stages of grief, your TBI or concussion, and the new you. Acceptance is accepting who you are, where you are, how you are. This is it. This is YOU. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And you are truly amazing. Struggles and all. You are a survivor. No one can do it better than you! Acceptance may mean distancing from people who don’t understand, give you ultimatums, enforce deadlines for healing, or get upset with you when you aren’t who you once were. You are worthy. You are deserving. You are brave and amazing. You are different than you were before your injury, but different can be good.
Headaches can be a tricky symptom to address. They are often one of several symptoms that may present itself after a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI). On another hand, headaches are not a requirement to support an actual diagnosis in a TBI or post-concussion symptoms (PCS).
Many believe the five stages of grief last weeks or months, but according to Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler, the stages of grief are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we flip in and out of one and then another. As a reminder, we do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion. We may experience one, then another, and back again to the first one. Let each stage happen. Embrace it, learn from it, and then keep going. What is bargaining? Bargaining is a stage in the grief process that is helpful when you feel powerless over circumstances, especially after a brain injury. Bargaining is an attempt to regain control. Bargaining is frequently done with God, or a higher power, that you feel has some control over the situation. Bargaining is similar to negotiation. “I promise I’ll do this, or be this, if I can just go back in time—or have five more minutes or have one more day.” It’s interesting because you know all the bargaining in the world won’t help, but it doesn’t prevent you from trying, begging, “Please? I’ll do anything. I just want my brain back. I want me back! The way I was.” You want to go back in time—stop the accident from happening, put on protective gear, yield to that stop sign, put on your seatbelt. If only, if only, IF ONLY.
Did you play sports growing up? Hands down, my favorite sport as a kid was soccer. I loved participating in a sport where I could do something I enjoyed with teamwork involved. There was nothing better than stealing the ball and dribbling down the field past every opposing player, to score the winning goal! While soccer was an important part of my life as a child, I did not realize the implications it could have caused me. According to the CDC, approximately 1 in 3 (31%) concussions among girls and 1 in 4 (28%) concussions among boys happens in soccer while heading the ball.