Quick responses to loaded questions

The life of the mind

Jump to the 2nd part

I checked my site stats this morning — since I started this blog, WordPress has recorded 98,278 views, all-time. Getting towards 100,000 — cool. I’m not sure what it is with us humans and round numbers, but it feels momentous. And the thought that people have looked at this site 100,000 times is pretty gratifying. So, thank you for your support.

I checked the search terms for the past week, and I pulled out all the ones that relate specifically to TBI/head injury/concussion. Here they are — 101 search terms, with quick responses. I know that this is hindsight, and people have probably since moved on, but just in case anybody comes back to see more, here goes:

  1. difference between concussion and tbi – Check out this post: The difference between concussion and mild traumatic brain injury
  2. will i ever get better concussion – Probably you will. A lot depends on what you mean by “better” and a lot depends on how well you take care of yourself and do the things that will help you get better. Concussion is not a death-sentence. It’s a disruption. It doesn’t need to completely derail your life, but all too often, that’s exactly what happens. It happened with me. Several times. Yet, I continue to get better… because I’m now doing the kinds of things that help me get better.
  3. life after a concussion – Never boring! You just gotta roll with it.
  4. will concussions make you stupid – See this post: After concussion – you’re not stupid, it just feels that way
  5. brain gym after concussion – I’ve seen this advertised online, but I have no idea if it really works. Try it, it might help. It certainly can’t hurt to try.
  6. can you get stupider from concussion – See #4 above
  7. can you drive if you have concussion – That depends on the concussion. If your vision is screwed up, and your balance is off, and you have executive management issues (as in, you fly into a rage over people behaving badly while they drive), you probably want to have someone else behind the wheel, at least until you can function normally again. Also, if your concussion was/is accompanied by seizures, then you should not drive. Some states even prohibit it. But over time, if you are getting back to some semblance of normalcy, then you may be able to work your way back to driving again. Just be smart. And realize that your brain is going to over-state its readiness, more often than not. Get a second opinion from a friend or relative. And don’t take it personally, if they tell you something that doesn’t sit right with you.
  8. dif between a busted head and a concusion – See #4 above
  9. how to convince a doctor you’ve got concusion – The CDC has a great Heads Up program with information for doctors called Facts for Physicians  — print a copy and take it with you to your doctor. Also, list out all the symptoms you have, explain to them how it is impacting your life, and emphasize that you want this information so that you can improve and get better… not get your doc to convince your employer that you need to go on disability, or you want an insurance company to cover all the expenses. When I was first seeking help for my TBIs, I made the nearly fatal mistake of mentioning the insurance issue to one of the neurologists I met, and it snapped the door shut on any productive interactions with them. Why do you want to convince a doctor you’ve had a concussion? If you’re looking for a way to get out of work or other responsibilities, don’t bother — it’s a pain in the ass, expensive, humiliating, and frustrating. But if you’re looking for a way to improve your life and heal from a potentially catastrophic injury, then use the CDC material, and call your local Brain Injury Association chapter for help.
  10. kill myself concussion – Don’t do it. Concussion and its effects can be temporary and can be managed and dealt with. Death, on the other hand, is permanent. And it does a lot more damage to the people around you who care about you, than your concussion ever will. It is very easy to fall into depression and want to give up, when you have to deal with this crap, day in and day out. Just this morning, I woke up feeling just awful, like nothing would ever work again, and I’d be better off not being around anyone. This was just my brain telling me stories that simply aren’t true. Concussion is NO reason to kill yourself. Remember, your brain has been injured, so your injured brain is about the last one that should be running the show. Give yourself and your brain time to rest and heal, and then see how good life can get. But don’t just give into it.
  11. post concussion syndrome reinjury – This would be the story of my life. It’s happened to me a number of times, and believe me, it’s no walk in the park. Reinjury can happen because the injured brain is not quite up to the job of protecting itself from getting dinged again. After concussion — especially in sports — there can be a huge, overwhelming impulse to get back into the game and keep going harder, stronger, faster. But the brain and body aren’t capable of doing that. Reaction times are slowed. risk assessment is dulled, coordination is off, as may be sight and hearing and balance. It’s a potent recipe for disaster, and if an injured brain is reinjured before it gets a chance to heal, you’re asking for a whole new world of hurt.
  12. concussion intelligence – See #4 above
  13. do concussions make you dumber – Likewise
  14. are there lasting effects from a concussion – There can be, but sometimes there aren’t. The vast majority of people do get better. And then there are people like me. Lasting effects can range from mood disorders to physical disabilities. See this page: Then And Now – Managing TBI Issues Over the Long Term for a list of issues and more discussion.
  15. what is the difference between a cracked skull and a concussion – Check out this post: The difference between concussion and mild traumatic brain injury
  16. is concussion baseline testing a good idea – It depends who you talk to. And it depends on the test, the tester, the test-taker. There are many critics of the Impact system, which is a computerized test that is not 100% comprehensive. Some testers will be numbskulls, while others will be sharp and smart. Some people taking the test will “game” the system and create an artificially low baseline, so that if/when they get concussed, they will not look worse than they were when they started. I also believe that you can have good days and bad days, so creating a baseline from a single test on a single day is a problem. I am not a neuropsychologist, but I can figure that much out.
  17. concussions make you smarter? – Who knows? They may. When the brain is injured and heals, it may create new connections that reshape the brain in new ways. I have heard a number of stories about people who started painting after their TBI, and they became amazing artists. It might not have happened without the TBI, probably. Not that aspiring artists should go out and hit their heads, mind you. Also, someone once suggested that my history of TBIs may have forced me to become more mentally flexible and open to different solutions to problems. I can totally see that. When you have your “standard set” of life possibilities altered or removed for no apparent reason, and your brain just doesn’t behave the way it should, you tend to come up with alternative coping solutions. In that way, perhaps concussions have made me smarter. But they’ve also made me a bit of a bonehead in some ways.
  18. things people do when they get concussion – Not sure what this is about — Good things they do? Things they do to heal? If you’re looking for healing ideas, rest is at the top of the list. And eating right. And getting plenty of exercise. And taking up some sort of meditative activity. Being mentally active, even when it’s a challenge. Just keep living your life, and don’t stop looking for new and different ways to approach things.
  19. impact concussion testing wiki – see #16 above
  20. life stressors after concusion – You mean… everything? Concussion has a weird way of turning little molehills into vast mountain chains. Depending on your injury, it can make the smallest of events seem like an epic drama. I’m just coming off a harried weekend after falling down that rabbit hole on Friday. The problem with life stressors and concussion is that concussion makes little things seem big… then the big things get out of control… the big things wear you out and fatigue you and stir up all kinds of drama you have to sort out later… and the fatigue makes you even worse at thinking. Bad brain days and all that. TBI issues and life stressors can become self-fulfilling prophecies and feed off each other. It’s often not very pretty at all.
  21. computerized concussion testing – see #16 above (… looking at the clock, I need to get ready for work. I’ll pick up on this later…)
  22. … Okay, starting again… tbi and road rage – You’re on the road, driving… Maybe you’re fatigued from not having enough sleep. Maybe you’re fatigued from a lot of traffic. Maybe you’re stressed from the “antics” of other drivers. Maybe you’re restless and anxious about work or something else. Being in a car, by yourself, alone with your anger, is a potent environment for road rage. Especially when TBI is involved. TBI can cut down on your impulse control, causing you to completely miss the warning in your brain that tells you it’s not such a great idea to race after someone to teach them a lesson. Agitation and fatigue feed into each other, and when you’re behind the wheel of a car in traffic, being on high alert from the activities of others can really wreak havoc with your peace of mind. The big problem is, TBI will tell you you’re perfectly justified and correct in behaving like a jerk in traffic. It will tell you that you have every right to fly off the handle, race after people, threaten them, rage against them… all that. Just not good.
  23. rage and tbi – see above. Especially when you are feeling helpless and defenseless and small and vulnerable, rage can well up — quickly. Fatigue feeds restlessness and agitation… and they tire you out even more. The brain needs energy to function, and when you’re tired and stressed, it can go haywire. On top of that, you can have a lot of stress hormones — adrenaline and whatnot — coursing through your veins, so the agitation and concern gets even more amped up by that chemical cocktail. For me, rage comes up most frequently when I feel vulnerable and attacked. Nobody has to even do anything to me. If I just feel like I’m defenseless against a threat, I’ll go after whatever it is I feel frightened by and “hit it harder” than it will hit me. Keep in mind, the threat only needs to be perceived. It doesn’t need to be REAL. This is how wars start with me — and then drag on, as I feel the need to justify my boneheaded attacks, throughout the ensuing hours, days, weeks, months, years… Rage and TBI – intricately connected and a huge pain in the ass, for me and everyone around me.
  24. tbi and mental health video – Check out YouTube here
  25. no dreams after tbi – That’s happened to me. In fact, compared to how things were before my last fall, I’ve had far fewer decent dreams than in the past. I’m not sure why this is. Maybe my brain has become more literal, or maybe I’m just too danged tired to dream. I’ve had some really great dreams over the course of my life, but since 2004, not so many great ones — and the ones that were good have been fewer and farther between. This changes over time, however. But I do miss having more interesting dreams.
  26. treatment for slowness after tbi – Just keeping on doing the things that I want to do, which I have been doing more slowly, is the ticket for me. For example, once upon a time, I had real issues with getting ready for work. I would forget what I was doing, what I needed to do, if I had washed my hair in the shower, if I had done the things I needed to do… and the things I did do, I did far more slowly than I cared to. What I had to do, was create tools and props for myself to help me do the simple things. I made lists. I put stickie notes around the kitchen. I kept a timer in the bathroom so I wouldn’t spend half an hour in the shower and be late for work. I also made checklists that I followed step-by-step. Eventually, I got to a point where I was able to do without them. But I used them as long as I needed to, and it helped me speed things up. People around me thought I didn’t need the lists and tools, but I did. I used them anyway. And they helped me.
  27. hate my tbi husband – And he probably hates himself. It’s not much fun turning into another person. If you want to relieve yourself of the burden of that hate, learn as much as you can about TBI and learn to help him avoid the kinds of behaviors that cause you to hate him. Is he over-tired a lot? Does he melt down a lot? Maybe he needs more rest. Does he do all sorts of things that annoy you? It could be he’s having trouble in ways you can’t tell. I really encourage anyone who’s dealing with a difficult TBI person to seek out help from their local Brain Injury Association chapter to help them better understand the situation and get support from others who have similar issues.
  28. assessment of tbi – I believe this is best done by a qualified neuropsychologist, not a computer program.
  29. tbi and lying – MIght not be lying, exactly. See this post: Growing up with TBI – The Confabulation Kid
  30. schizophrenia from tbi – I think this can happen. Google it… I’m no expert.
  31. tbi and psychiatric illness – TBI can lead to a number of mental disturbances, which can feed into full-blown mental illness. The problem is, lots of mental health care folks don’t know about TBI, and they think it’s trauma or some other abuse issue. Or some purely psychological thing. It’s a problem. I really encourage therapists and other psychiatric professionals to learn as much as they can about TBI and how it affects thinking. Too many people are “treated” the wrong way, when they need a specific kind of approach, which they just can’t get, because their care provider is clueless about TBI.
  32. tbi anger blurting – Impulse control issues. A real problem. I’ve dealt with this many times over the years, and in some ways, it’s one of the most problematic issues I’ve had. Embarrassing. For everyone. Not good. What to do? Take a breath before speaking, and when in doubt, keep really quiet. People sometimes give me crap for being “too quiet” but trust me, it beats the alternative.
  33. tbi screening tools – I’m not sure about this one. ImPACT comes to mind – the computerized testing system, but I’m not sure how great it is. Divided opinions.
  34. ptsd and tbi – go hand-in-hand, in my opinion. A Traumatic Brain Injury is trauma-inducing by nature, and that means you get not only the injury, but the complications of trauma that go with it. I personally believe that trauma plays a much more significant part in TBI outcomes than a lot of people talk about. I think people don’t talk about it as much, because the trauma field has been dominated by sexual abuse issues, as well as war wounds, and those are two areas not everyone feels comfortable exploring. I feel the focus on sexual trauma, while important for many, short-changes the whole field and brings too narrow a set of concerns to the issue. More research and writing should be done on the traumatic aspects of TBI. I hope to add to that discussion over the coming years.
  35. skin rash and tbi – I looked this up, and I found some web pages where they talk about medications prescribed for TBI symptoms. Anti-depressants can cause them. The one thing I can think of that might be a possible explanation of a connection is the stress that can come after a traumatic event, as well as the stress that comes during the process of healing from the injury. TBI can be very stressful to deal with — socially, personally, mentally, spiritually, physically — and if you’re susceptible to rashes when you get stressed, I can see how that could happen. Other possible explanations are some sort of infection getting into an open wound, or another medical issue that’s overshadowed by the TBI issues.

Author: brokenbrilliant

I am a long-term multiple (mild) Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or TBI) survivor who experienced assaults, falls, car accidents, sports-related injuries in the 1960s, '70s, '80s, and '90s. My last mild TBI was in 2004, but it was definitely the worst of the lot. I never received medical treatment for my injuries, some of which were sports injuries (and you have to get back in the game!), but I have been living very successfully with cognitive/behavioral (social, emotional, functional) symptoms and complications since I was a young kid. I’ve done it so well, in fact, that virtually nobody knows that I sustained those injuries… and the folks who do know, haven’t fully realized just how it’s impacted my life. It has impacted my life, however. In serious and debilitating ways. I’m coming out from behind the shields I’ve put up, in hopes of successfully addressing my own (invisible) challenges and helping others to see that sustaining a TBI is not the end of the world, and they can, in fact, live happy, fulfilled, productive lives in spite of it all.

5 thoughts on “Quick responses to loaded questions”

  1. 2 weeks s/p concussion – still feeling the headaches, irritability, unable to concentrate and bothered by lots of people talking at once, lights, and I am unable to multitask which I prided myself in before.

    ” don’t know where to go????

    Brett

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  2. Brett –

    First of all, take it easy. Really. Don’t push yourself to do things the exact way you did them before. Think of it like a tornado went through your brain – some stuff got pulled apart, while other stuff was untouched. It’s hard to know exactly what to do, because things can change, and it can be hard to figure out just what is going on.

    My own headaches can come from stress — the stress of trying to sort out what’s going on. Concentration issues are big ones with me — for me, it’s related to how tired I am. Lots of people talking at once might be hard for a while, because it takes a lot of energy to switch your attention from one to the other, keep track of what they’re saying, and then participate in the conversation. I am more sensitive to light when I am tired, too. And multi-tasking… that’s harder when you have concentration issues, which are related to attention and distraction.

    The main thing to do now is go easy and let yourself rest, so you brain can catch up again. The brain takes a huge amount of energy, even when it’s working well. And when it’s trying to come back online after a concussion, it needs even more. Some people are experimenting with sports drinks — Gatorade and Powerade, the stuff with electrolytes and glucose in them. I would try them, if I were you, but also rest, rest, and rest some more.

    Like the comparison to the tornado — think of it like your brain now has crews of emergency staff going through and moving debris out of the way, finding out who’s hurt, getting them help. You need to keep out of the way of the emergency crews while they’re working, so they can do their job. It can be frustrating to just sit and wait, but it’s a heck of a lot better than dealing with long-term issues on down the line. Believe me — I know what it’s like, and it’s not fun. I only wish I’d known what people know now, and that I’d taken time off instead of pushing myself. But what’s done is done. All I can do is recommend that others don’t do what I did…

    Take good care
    BB

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