Searchers Top 27 for August 24, 2012

August is nearly over. Back to School season is well underway. Kids have gone off to college for the first time, leaving plenty of parents wondering where all the years went. It’s becoming cooler, and the light is changing. Fall is right around the corner.

Here are the Top 27 searches people entered to get to this blog today, along with my responses.

  1. how to slow down my heart rate – This is a common search that brings people here all the time. Click here to read what I’ve said — I hope it helps.
  2. loneliness – Yeah, you and me both. I’ve been feeling really lonely, lately, partly because my work situation is so stressful and amped-up, and partly because I just don’t have that much interaction with people. Most of the time, I get depressed, when I see how people behave. It’s just not right. The political scene makes me nauseous. All the social debates and terrible things people do to each other — it’s so unnecessary and so pointless and it doesn’t achieve anything lasting that really helps. Everybody has pain, but not all of us inflict it on others. And those of us who are determined to not inflict pain on others for our own personal gain, tend to be fewer and farther between than I’d like. It’s lonely out there. But sometimes we manage to find people who can relate to us — and then it’s a little less lonely. That helps.
  3. solution for extreme light sensitivity – The only solution I’ve been able to find, other than sunglasses, is rest. And lots of it. When I am tired, I can become very sensitive to light. When I am stressed by having to process too much information around me, I can’t tolerate light. Resting and relaxing help.
  4. weakness is pain leaving the bodyI’ve ranted about this before. ‘Nuff said.
  5. can being overtired cause you to feel dumb – Yes. Especially with TBI. And it’s not just feeling dumb. It’s being dumb — for myself, that is. I can’t speak for anyone else. When I am overtired, I can become a friggin’ idiot. Impulse control goes out the window, along with complex thought. It’s not pretty. I get Dumb and Dumber.
  6. what makes tbi a mental condition – Well, it happens in your brain, so that’s mental. And it affects your mind, as well — the mind and the brain are two different things. The brain is an organ, the mind is the whole system (including your cardio-pulmonary “brain” and your enteric nervous system “brain”) managing the flow of energy and information throughout your whole body and your whole life. I personally believe that TBI contributes to mental illness the same way that other traumas do — it kicks your fight-flight system into high gear and it can keep it there indefinitely, if you’re not aware of what’s going on or if you haven’t found a way to get out of that adrenaline loop. TBI can seriously mess with your biochemistry and set you up for depression, impulse-control issues, behavioral issues, and a whole lot of other problems that come from having a nervous system that’s totally whacked out. You may start out with a relatively “mild” injury, but if important aspects of your life are disrupted in ways that put you on constant guard and alert, eventually it will take a toll. Unless you can do something about that and figure out how to adjust and adapt, you can find yourself worse off, after a few years, than you were at the start. It happened to me, and it happens to a lot of people.
  7. impact brain test – I am not a huge fan of computer testing for concussion and pre-concussion baselines, mainly because people tend to use machines as crutches and often don’t put in the work they need to do, to understand and respond appropriately. If someone gets an Impact testing package, does that mean they don’t have to understand concussion/TBI, and they can just rely on the machine? Of course not. But not all people think that way, so ultimately it might do more harm than good. Education about concussion and the best way to handle it — by an independent person who has been properly trained and doesn’t have a vested interest in overlooking injury for the sake of “winning” — is really the best way to go.
  8. how well did my job interview go – Good question. That’s always a hard one for me. I usually find out later, but it’s notoriously difficult for me to tell, right after it happened.
  9. i forget where i am – I forgot where I was, about a week ago. I was driving through some woods not far from my home, in a section where I’m usually paying close attention to traffic and don’t look around much. I looked around me, and I did not recognize anything. I couldn’t even remember where I was going, for a few seconds. It probably lasted about 5-10 seconds, then I turned a corner and I recognized where I was. It was a little eerie, and it kind of freaked me out, but it happens.
  10. live by choice, not by chance. make changes, not excuse. be motivated, not manipulated. work to excel, not compete. listen to your inner voice, not the jumbled opinions of everyone else – Yes, what they said.
  11. pain is weakness leaving the body quote – see above
  12. univ of buffalo brain injury treatment – These folks have a protocol that helps people recover from concussion — even people with long-standing persistent issues. They also have a great success rate (last I checked). I have a bunch of things I’ve written about them here.
  13. ways to slow down your heart rate – Again, see above
  14. off work following a concussion – Probably smart. I never stopped working after my concussion(s), and it got me in trouble. It blinded me to the problems I was having, because I was so busy pushing and pushing and pushing, that I didn’t stop to look at what was going on with me. Only when I took time off to help a family member who was seriously ill, did I realize that my thinking was messed up, my noise and light sensitivities were intense, and I was in constant stress for reasons I didn’t understand. Taking time off work is so important. I hope the person who searched on this is making the most of it.
  15. tbi and anger – They tend to go hand-in-hand. Either someone was an angry person before, and their TBI has made things worse, or they underwent some personality changes because the way their brain worked before isn’t the same as it is now, and they get stressed, agitated, and they’re not able to regulate their emotions a well as before. Rage tends to accompany TBI, too. It’s a problem — and it’s probably responsible for a lot of people going to jail. Dealing with TBI-induced anger is critical — both for the survivor and the people around them.
  16. contagious trauma in managing change – It happens. It’s not easy to watch people go through things, and you can end up going through things, as well. Also, when you’re dealing with someone who has wild mood swings and outbursts and may be edgy, you can develop trauma having to deal with them every day. Being threatened by someone else is not easy, even if they have good reason to be on edge. But trauma is the “gift that keeps on giving” and it sometimes is contagious.
  17. navy seal positive self talk – I’ve written some things here (follow the link)
  18. i got a concussion now i cant feel emotions – This is understandable. Here’s how I think this works (based on my own experience, not on any research I’ve read). When you get a concussion, your whole system may need to work harder just to do the same things as before. Because it has to work harder, you depend more on stress hormones and adrenaline to keep going. Especially if the symptoms are confusing, disruptive, unwelcome, and uncontrollable, you can find yourself always on edge and always on guard. When that happens, your biochemistry shuts down the parts of you that are “unnecessary” — the emotions, the feelings, the more receptive parts of you. Your system is so busy trying to keep up, that it loses touch with the feeling parts of itself. After a while, you can get out of practice and end up feeling like a block of wood. That happened to me. I lost all the emotional stuff (aside from anger and rage and sadness and frustration), and I felt like a block of wood walking around. I’m starting to feel like that again, with my current job situation, so I know it’s time to go.
  19. you know you’re tired when this happens – Yes, you sure do.
  20. do you use your vagus nerve to sing? – I think the vagus nerve is affected (in a good way) by singing, but I’m not sure it helps you sing.
  21. head ramming concussion symptomsYou can get a TBI/concussion from head-banging. The symptoms will vary from person to person, but if someone is behaving differently (and seeming more stupid) than before, and they’ve been ramming their head against something, could be they have a concussion. And they should take care of themself so they can start behaving like a regular person again, as well as get smart again. These things can heal with time – but it takes time.
  22. mild tbi two years later – Is not uncommon. Some of us end up having symptoms for a while. It’s not uncommon. It has been said that about 85% of concussed folks recover fully without further problems, but that means 15% don’t. I’m one of the 15%. And in fact (thanks markinidaho for the nudge), when you get down to it, concussion effects are permanent. Even if you don’t have intense issues, you can still be more sensitive to caffeine and alcohol and drugs, and you’re always going to be more susceptible to another concussion.  I’m still dealing with TBI stuff, more than 7 years after my last concussion (nearly 8 – coming up this Thanksgiving). That one came after more than 8 prior concussions, which started when I was a young kid. When the brain changes, it changes. And working with it to change it in a different direction has been an ongoing process with me. It just doesn’t end.
  23. brain injury complacency – Is also not uncommon. People tend to shrug it off, because people have been getting hit in the head for thousands of years, and most people have gotten a kick out of how funny it is to watch someone stagger around like they’re drunk, or lie there knocked out before they open their eyes and jump up again. We’re learning better now, but there’s still a lot of complacency — especially with regard to men. Getting hit on the head, hitting others on the head, punching people, getting punched, getting knocked down and getting back up to go back in the fray is all part of the stereotypical American male growing-up experience, and a lot of folks think it’s just how you toughen ’em up. The same is somewhat true for women, but not nearly as much. Still, that idea that you have to be “tough” and that you can just dismiss a brain injury and go back to what you were doing before, is common. And people think that things will just take care of themselves, or that we can “design” a new life on purpose, if we just try/think hard enough.
  24. how can i slow my heart rate down during exercise – See above. And try taking slower breaths. It could be that you’re breathing too fast — hyperventilating.
  25. warning sign photos – Shouldn’t be too hard to find here. I use them now and then.
  26. anxiety and vagus nerve – I love my vagus nerve, and so should you. I’ve written a fair amount about the vagus nerve. I really need to write more…
  27. pain is just weakness leaving the body – No, it’s not. See above.

So, that’s it for today, folks. Enjoy the last days of summer!

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.

8 thoughts on “Searchers Top 27 for August 24, 2012”

  1. Hi BB. fascinating search topics and helpful list. Re the ‘wired’ feeling. I was fascinated to find, with a prefrontal cortex injury, that it is the prefrontal cortex that activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This helps explain the permanent wired feeling. For years, like you, I have been slowly inching along to find ways to improve this situation. I eventually developed a habit which, if I think about it carefully, almost involves a momentary holding of the breath, which seems to help cut worsening wiredness off at the pass (when I remember!). Perhaps this relates to the vagus nerve.

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  2. Hi Jen – it is interesting, isn’t it… similar themes throughout visits here.

    It’s also interesting about prefrontal cortex injuries. I had not heard about that.

    Your gut feeling about holding your breath relating to the vagus nerve is spot-on. That’s exactly what you’re doing — kicking it into gear by holding your breath. I have heard lots of people criticize holding one’s breath, like it’s a bad thing, but I think it’s really only bad if you keep holding it past the point of helpfulness. Holding the breath and then tightening the abdomen and bearing down (like when you’re trying to move your bowels) is called the “vagal maneuver” and doctors teach their patients to do that. It stimulates the sympathetic nervous system. You have to be careful, though, because it can make you lightheaded.

    It sounds like you already have something that works for you, which is great.

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  3. BB,
    I agree that your search terms/questions are very common. As much as I see the value to tidbits of information that may benefit the mTBI/PCS community, something I don’t see you considering is the stress your blog is putting on your brain. As I read it, I see stress and anxiety as a major component in your writing. My life experience is similar to yours. I have lived with PCS since 1965 when I was 10. My concussions since then total about 10-13 that I can remember. I write all night long because I don’t have to get up to go to work. Needing to stop driving finished my slow decline to disability. I learned 30+ years ago that I had to work in jobs where I was in control so I could reduce the stress factors and have control of my work hours. It just became problematic getting to my customers’ homes, plus one customer wanted to argue so I decided to walk away. Then he slugged me in the back of the head. Concussion number 13 or so with a big personality change.
    7. Your comment about ImPACT is interesting. I reject ImPACT for a different reason. It has no medical or scientific value at predicting the brain’s tolerance of another trauma, whether it is a concussion or a sub-concussive impact. Its only value is as a tool to convince players, their parents, coaches and trainers that the player should be kept off the field until they achieve a minimum standard of improvement. Its first goal is getting the player off the field. Second is making money for the authors. Or, it may be in the other order. It has become part of the concussion industry as a money making industry since many sports leagues use ImPACT or another Computerized Concussion Test (CCT) to pull the player from the field and require a ‘concussion specialist’ to approve Return To Play.
    10. I term that as choosing to like deliberately. The rest may be able to live a haphazard life but we must constantly be deliberate in our actions. Our actions may negatively impact us or they seriously negatively impacts others so that they take a seriously negative view of us.
    12. The Buffalo Protocol has no success record at recovery from concussion either. Its benefit is for recovering the ability to return to physically stressful activities. One of the prerequisites for the Buffalo Protocol is to be at least 6 weeks post concussion and with the only continuing symptom being head aches from physical effort. It has shown no benefit at recovering cognitive or memory skills.
    Unfortunately, there are many implied benefits of ImPACT, other CCT’s and the Buffalo protocol. If you read deep into the research, one can find the many limits of these programs
    15. Your comment about TBI and anger is so true. They did a survey in the jails and prisons in British Columbia and found that 60% exhibit signs of brain trauma. It has been suggested that the homeless population has a similar high percentage of brain trauma.
    18. Interesting concept. I have never read anything that supports this. I have had many ‘degrading’ changes in personality since I was 10. A more common issue is the propensity to become Obsessive and Compulsive due to the brain’s struggle to filter out and overlook those things that are annoying. Emotion is more of an abstract thought that requires more brain power. Plus, the emotional center of the brain is commonly damaged in brain trauma. This does not mean we are destined to live a life of flat affect. We can learn emotional responses. Over time, they begin to feel real.
    19. I have a TBI friend who relates to this as “And then that happened.” Those unexpected problems that we should be smart enough to realize are not unexpected. If we could only remember from our last bad experience in this situation.
    21. They say the definition of a fool is someone who does the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Most of us learn to try to stop at one head bump.
    22. [About 85% of concussed folks recover fully without further problems, but that means 15% don’t ] The scientific truth is that nobody fully recovers from a concussion. They have residual weaknesses that will only manifest during times of stress. They recover to a point of being able to live without chronic symptoms and return to their previous activities. They also carry with them a weakness for the next impact, whether it is a concussive impact or a sub-concussive impact. Their brain will be less tolerant of alcohol and other brain active drugs and food substances like caffeine. Since they do not report Post Concussive Symptoms, by default they are considered fully recovered.
    23. The worst part about brain injury complacency is the lack of understanding and refusal to accept the research on the cumulative damage caused by sub-concussive impacts. Contrary to common belief, the most common cause of CTE is sub-concussive impacts. fyi, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is the brain deterioration that causes NFL and NHL to end their lives and donate their brains to the Sports Legacy Institute to be studied for CTE.

    I try to not dwell on the ups and downs of my day. It is a fruitless effort. I learned that years ago. I can’t imaging depending on a Neuropsych. I have never found them to be much help. They have only tried to convince me that the solution to my problems is in my head. If I would stop being depressed I would be better. Then they tell me that my NeuroPsych Assessment may show no malingering but I must be cheating because I am too intelligent to have a brain injury. Many of us could teach them a thing or two. Just because we test with more intelligence than they does not mean we do not have limited memory and processing skills.
    I’ll take a knowledgeable ortho-molecular psychiatrist over a neuropsych any day.

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  4. Hey Mark –

    You’re probably right about the stress and anxiety related to my blogging. I’ll have to take a look at that. I’ve been giving that a good deal of thought, lately, especially since blogging does take up time, which is not something I have tons of, and I do seem to get stuck in the negative at times. Really don’t want to get stuck there, when there’s so much good to actually experience in life.

    One of the ways I make life harder for myself is the thought of what I “should” do, based on others’ ideas or some popular concept of how life should be lived. It just seems like such a good idea. Except when it’s not.

    Like this whole job situation. Like you, I need to be in job situations where I’m controlling the pace, and my situation for the past 2 years has not been like that at all. Quite the contrary. Rather than finding a better way out and making my own way, I’ve been taking the counsel of well-meaning but pretty biased folks (including my neuropsych) who think that I can just adjust my attitude and interpretations of facts, and all will be well. Except when that doesn’t work. Somehow, it all seems to come back to me and my crappy attitude, in their opinion.

    Good grief. That gets a little old.

    Insanity. Yeah. Being told by ny NP that I just need to change my attitude and dive back into the fray, gets old… especially when I land on your proverbial face, time and time again. The main reason I’ve been going back to my neuropsych for the past couple of years is that I’ve figured out how to talk to them… and as a result I’ve learned how to talk to others. This is new for me — I did a really crappy job of actually conversing with people in the past. I never actually did — just nodded and smiled and said “Uh huh” a lot… without a lot of real comprehension going on. This weekly arrangement with my NP has helped me learn how to actually talk to another person. In terms of job issues and health issues, they’re almost worse than no help at all, because like your experience, they love to tell me that I just have to “make different meanings” about things, and all will be well. To a point, I can see that… but sometimes a pile of cow dung is just that – a pile of cow dung. Y’know?

    The Buffalo Protocol may judge its success rate by purely physical symptoms, but you’re right about the cognitive and memory things, which are huge issues and need to be addressed. And I wonder if addressing physical symptoms enough to send a person back into the game is really such a great idea, after all. If their risk assessment abilities and processing speed have been affected, isn’t that putting them (back) in harm’s way?

    As for not feeling emotions, thanks for the info about that — I based that on my own personal experience — I’m not sure if I’ve ready anything to that effect, but that’s how it’s been for me.

    It really is amazing how much time it can take to just live your life after TBI. I find that things go better for me, when I spend time reviewing my days and thinking about how I’m going to approach experiences. I have a terrible memory for how things were for me in the past, which is where my NP comes in handy — they prompte me to remember how things used to be, without treating me like a complete idiot (like everyone else does).

    Yeah, for 22 I stand corrected – you’re spot-on there. Concussion is permanent, and even if you can get back to the same kind of life you had before, and you’re not telling anyone about the symptoms you’re having and/or you’re chalking them up to something else, the simple fact of the matter is, the brain has changed, and that’s that. I’ll have to correct the original post – thanks for the correction.

    As for sub-concussive impacts, that’s the part that worries me, sometimes. I grew up rough-housing and constantly getting knocked around. The experience of getting dinged and being out of it for a few minutes — or longer — during games (when I continued to play) was commonplace with me. I’ve raised this issue with my NP, but they waved it off. They don’t seem to think it’s that big of a deal, but I can’t help but wonder.

    I’ve got more thoughts about the NP stuff, but I think that will go better in a post of its own.

    Thanks again and have a great day.

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  5. You said [The experience of getting dinged and being out of it for a few minutes — or longer — during games (when I continued to play) was commonplace with me. I’ve raised this issue with my NP, but they waved it off. They don’t seem to think it’s that big of a deal, but I can’t help but wonder.] This is often based on either biased thinking based on old ideas with no more basis other than a wives’ tail or based on the limited research done by Mickey Collins, et.al. of ImPACT. They studied the effect of multiple concussions and found no cumulative effect. The problem is their limiting factor of the ImPACT Test. They found no cumulative effect that can be identified with the ImPACT Test. This does not mean there is no cumulative effect. It just means they can not measure a cumulative effect with the ImPACT system. This says far more about the limits of the ImPACT system than about multiple concussions or sub-concussive impacts. Those dings where you felt out of it for a few minutes were more than dings. They were full blown concussions. The sub-concussive impacts do not cause any symptoms other than that was a hard hit to the head/helmet, like heading the ball in soccer or just banging helmets on the line in football.
    You greatest issue should be maintaining brain health with good brain nutrition and low stress, especially since you are in the prime age for decline (40’s and later)
    I find that I communicate much better by text. I have a chance to reread my comments before I post the comment. Plus, I can look at what I have already typed to refresh my train of thought. The display becomes my immediate and short term memory. I often get sidetracked from my original train of though and fail to finish the necessary comment. With the availability of texting and iPads and such, you may find that you do better from a practicality and functionality basis with text communication. I also have learned to rehearse what I need to say. If I shoot from the mouth, I mis-speak or struggle to find words or have other failure to communicate effectively. Research shows that using iPads and other communication devices is very effective for people like us.
    I can imagine running a project from a laptop or iPad with multiple two-way communication paths being followed throughout the day. The accountability would be amazing with a text record.
    Just a thought.

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  6. OOPS, wives “tale” not wives “tail.” Many of us call that a brain fart. It stinks and i can’t believe it came out of me. LOL

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  7. You’re right about the text record. It really does help. I’ll be able to respond more later, after I’m back from my errands… yeah, full-blown concussions vs. sub-concussive hits. More to think about.

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