The New Science of Concussion Recovery

I’m not a snowboarder, but I’ve been up-side-down, looking at the sky plenty of times

Those who say “TBI recovery is not possible” can … [insert dismissal here]

Check out this article:

The New Science of Concussion Recovery

Breakthrough therapies are helping athletes recover from injuries previously thought untreatable. But many doctors remain unaware of the advancements.

It’s about seven months old… can’t believe I didn’t see it sooner.

Or maybe I did, and I forgot? That’s always possible.

From the article:

Therapies are tailored to the patient’s particular symptom set, since researchers now recognize six different types of concussions: anxiety/mood; cervical, which can lead to headaches; post-traumatic migraine; ocular dysfunction; vestibular, or difficulty with balance, motion, and coordination; and cognitive/fatigue, which causes concentration issues. A person suffering from an anxiety/mood concussion, for example, might become prone to angry outbursts, while someone with ocular dysfunction might feel woozy when surrounded by moving objects.

One of this year’s program visitors was Laura Fraser, whose concussion spanned three types (vestibular, ocular, and anxiety/mood). Her prescriptions included staring at a point on the wall while shaking her head, seeking out crowded places where people bustled around her, and focusing on objects at different distances. Her clinicians also insisted that she start exercising again. Running or biking, initially for 20 minutes a day, became part of her recovery program. “It was the opposite of what I’d been hearing for a whole year,” she says. But it worked. By December, she was symptom-free and cleared for more snowboarding.

“I could feel improvement every time I did the exercises,” says Fraser. “With the ‘just rest’ approach, I was waiting for something to happen,” she explains. By contrast, the active therapies gave her a sense of control over her injury.

I do take issue with how lightly they dismiss concussion / TBI. The article says, “Head injury symptoms that clear up overnight or within a few days shouldn’t pose a concern.”  And that concerns me a bit.

On the whole, the news about new treatments is encouraging, but it might be premature to declare victory in the Battle Against TBI. There’s a lot more to the story than you can get in one magazine article.

You be the judge. Read the whole article here: http://www.outsideonline.com/1928476/new-science-concussion-recovery

 

Woke up in a funk, then I decided to do things a little differently

It’s a choice

So, I woke up at 6, after getting, oh, about 6-1/2 hours of sleep. Not great. I’m still thrown off by the overnight work on Fri/Sat night. Ugh.

And I had to get some things done, that I had neglected for … oh, months.

And I was in a funk about my spouse always snapping at my heels about every little thing. It’s like living with a bee constantly buzzing around my head, sometimes. You know, how you’re sitting there, relaxing and enjoying a sandwich, and then this bee shows up and starts buzzing around you, trying to get a bite of your sandwich, and you don’t want to get stung, but you can’t get rid of the bee… and you try to ignore it, and you try to make space for it, and you try to not be bothered… but it’s still there, buzzing around… buzzing… buzzing…

That’s how it was, pretty much all weekend with my spouse. Aside from a few times when we were able to just sit and be and enjoy each other’s company, it was pretty much of a drain. Constant complaining. Constant worrying. Constant coming up with more things that need to be done — that I need to do.

Holy crap, was it tiresome. And all I wanted to do, was get away. Just leave. Put all this behind me. The constant complaining, the moaning, the worrying, the fretting. Oh my God, when will it ever end?

And it occurs to me that I really don’t want to live this way. I can’t spend the next 25 years of my life marinating in someone else’s misery. No way, no how. Every time my spouse starts to complain and bitch and get all dramatic, it has the same effect on me that someone lighting up a cigarette does. I used to smoke, 25 years ago. I know and hang out with smokers. But I can’t stand the smell of cigarettes, when I can’t get away from them. And that’s what it’s like, every time my spouse starts to complain and find fault and pick at every little thing.

Like they’re chain-smoking. And I’m getting a lung full of 2nd-hand smoke.

I think I’ll buy a pack of cigarettes, and every time they start up, I’ll just light one. They hate cigarette smoke — about as much as I hate their constant complaining and whining and blaming. So, to give them a taste of what it’s like for me, I’ll step outside and light up a cigarette whenever they start to complain and find fault and vent — basically throwing up emotionally all over me.

There’s a reason I have a constant headache. And it generally gets worse, whenever my spouse is around.

I think I need a shield. Or full body armor.

So, this morning as I was trying to get things done — and my spouse was yelling at me for being to loud and waking them up (I get clumsy when I’m tired and out of it, and I bump around a lot), the thought occurred to me that I could just walk away. I don’t have to stay in this situation. I could carry on elsewhere, on my own, and I could be very happy alone. I’m the one who does most of the work in this relationship; they’re pretty much freeloading on me. So, stepping away and just living my life without someone draining the life force from me would be a welcome change.

It would be so nice to just have some peace. It really would. And I’m at the point now, with my birthday just around the corner, where I can’t figure out why I stay around, to get dished the same helping of neediness and negativity, every waking hour.

I’m not staying because I have to. I’ve stayed for 24 years because I’ve wanted to. But I want to less and less, with each passing day.

I do all the work, and they sit back and enjoy the ride.

Am I missing out on all the good that’s possible for me, because of some misguided loyalty to a person who just uses me, day in and day out, and then tries to make up for it by setting up a nice birthday for me? It doesn’t make sense.

So, what do I do?

I don’t really want to leave. It crosses my mind. I don’t have a spouse. I have a dependent. A ward. And I’m sick and tired of it.

Then again, this is a terrible time to make any decisions. My birthday is right around the corner, and that’s messing with my head. I also want to keep things stable for the next while and enjoy my time away, next weekend. My work projects are coming together, and that’s feeling good. I’ve also realized that I really don’t want to leave my current job. If the people I’m talking to actually offer me a buttload of money and benefits that make it all worth it, of course I’ll consider it. I might even do it. But I don’t have to leave. I’m good where I am, and I can stay here for the duration of my contract till the end of next March and be good with it.

The main thing is, I need to adjust my own attitude and how I relate to the rest of the world. If my spouse is miserable, that’s their business, not mine. I don’t have to get dragged down by it, and I don’t have to let myself be tainted by their negativity. I can live in a completely different world and leave them to theirs, without needing to turn our lives upside-down. If I did go, where would I go? What would I do? I like where I live, and unless I moved out of the country, I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather live.

So, enough of the burden that I take on, myself. Enough of that. I have a choice about how I will live my life and think about things. And I choose to be happy and stay the course. If my spouse chooses to join me, then fine. But I’m not choosing to join them in their abject misery. I know what it’s about — it’s because of their upbringing. I did not have that degree of abuse and neglect in my life as a child, so why should I experience life the same way they do? We both know how to deal with panic/anxiety — why should I suffer because I’m the only one who’s making the effort to use the tools?

I work hard to keep positive and  productive, but they can’t seem to be bothered.

It’s not fair to me. And it’s not realistic at all.

Happiness is a choice, and today it’s my choice. My spouse can do what they please, and they can live as they choose. It’s literally killing them in front of me, which is incredibly painful to watch. (And it’s probably a big driver behind me wanting to leave – so I don’t have to watch them in the final stages of their mental/physical breakdown/demise.)

As for me… I’m going to live.

End of subject.

Onward.

After a flurry of activity… a bit of calm

Decisions, decisions…

All the excitement of last weekend is finally chilling out.

I’ve talked before about how I’m just not interested in things that used to fascinate me.

I’m actually interested in a whole lot more things. And the weird thing about how my brain works now, is that I’ll completely forget the things that I’m fascinated with, and what I can do to explore them.

I think I need to make a list.

And even more importantly, I need to stick to it.

I have been really, really impulsive for the past month or so. I think the talks with doctors get to me. I went to see a physiatrist yesterday to help me with my neck and back, and possibly with my headaches. They were really good, professional, and they ordered x-rays and referred me to a physical therapist of my choosing.

I have another neuro appointment coming up next week, and I’m a little nervous that I’m not going to handle that right. The last visit was okay, it was just overwhelming talking about my issues with a brand new person. The next time will be better, I’m sure.

I hope.

Anyway… nerves…

When I’m nervous, I have all kinds of “great” ideas that I want to rush into right away. A lot of them are really good, it’s just not the time, yet. And by getting caught up in the new ideas, the existing ideas fall away.

But I’m so caught up in the new ideas, I don’t feel the need to think about them. The old ideas seem boring to me. No spark. No excitement. No motivation.

No good.

That’s what’s happened to me. I had a flurry of activity, this past weekend, and I actually did some decent things. I just didn’t do the things I was intending to do. And that’s no good. I lost a lot of time AND I didn’t exercise the way I usually do, so my system feels more off. And I’m having more headaches.

I seem to be calming down, now, for some reason. I think I just got to a point where I realized ALL THIS STUFF IS NOT GOING TO GET DONE, UNLESS I MAKE SOME CHOICES. I can’t just have it all hanging around. I need to clear some of this stuff out.

So, it’s back to basics. I’m digging out my old list of projects and picking things to work on. I have five things “in rotation” right now, which means I can do one thing each day of the week for the next three months, and get them all done.

And leave my weekends open to just enjoy myself. Unwind. Kick back. Relax, already. Just relax.

Because that’s what I need.

And that’s what makes everything else possible.

Onward. But be smart about it.

I can hear the Glenn Miller Band playing “In The Mood”

Or should it be “In A Mood”…?  I am in such a terrible mood, these days, it’s not even funny.

Fortunately, I know it, so I’ll spare you my emotional ups and downs.They’re artificial, really. Not based on anything substantive, other than that I’m extremely tired and over-taxed, and there is a lot of change going on at work.

Very little of which seems to be managed well. By others, or by me.

No, scratch that. I am handling it all pretty well — all things considered.

I’m just very, very tired and wading through unknown territory as best I can. I have to be careful that I don’t let my physical state trick my mind into believing that I’m worse off than I am. That happens to me all the time, and for years it really messed me up, because I interpreted feeling bad as being bad.  Not the same thing. Not even close.

I might as well get used to this, because the way things are going for me, it’s not going to get easier or simpler, anytime soon. The people in charge are seeing what I can do under really challenging circumstances, which will only bode well for me, job-wise. So, in that respect, things are good. At the same time, if nobody else is stepping up except for me… well, you get the picture.

Getting ahead of myself, though. Way ahead of myself.

The wild thing is, things are actually going really, really well for me. When I step back and take a look from 30,000 feet up, and I can disengage from all my internal angst — not to mention the pain and confusion and frustration I’m in — things are looking great. But my biochemistry is completely out of whack, and I’ve been running on adrenaline for a bit too long.

So, screw it. Just keep going. I’m sure everything will brighten up, on down the line. It just feels like I’m not making headway, my spouse is perpetually under the weather, I have too much on my plate, the new car is having issues, and I’m feeling pressured all over again in a multitude of ways.

Okay, I’ll stop now. That’s enough for one morning. Time to just get moving and do something about this.

Gearing up for another neuro visit

Well, I found a new neurologist. And I finally got an appointment with them in about 4 weeks’ time. I’ll be sitting down with my neuropsychologist to review their notes.

This makes me nervous. Looking at what’s been going on with me, and trying to articulate it with another person is… challenging. I worry that I won’t articulate things well, and we’ll end up going off on a tangent that’s just not consistent with where I’m at.

And then I can end up on yet another boondoggle.

No thank you. I’ve done that already — several times, over the years, and I have better things to do than try out new meds that make me feel worse (or just plain weird).

I guess the secret is in keeping things simple. Focusing on a few simple questions — like  Is this sh*t going to kill me? — will keep things from spinning wildly out of control.

Also, staying rested and well-fed… not eating too much sugar… tracking my headaches when they come up. It’s all part of it.

I’m really more anxious than I am fearful. It’s just a lot of ideas and nervousness spinning around in my head. And things are very busy and chaotic at work, so that doesn’t help.

Oh, well. Time to go back to my experiments with numbers…

Knowing when to say “No, I’m not doing that”

Does it all NEED to be done? Probably not

So, you’re way into your life. You’ve got all these ideas you want to explore… and all these activities you want to try out. Indoor activities, outdoor activities, social activities. All of them sound fun and cool, and just thinking about them gives you a charge.

The only thing is, your brain-injured noggin is losing sight of how tired you are. And it also doesn’t realize that when you get tired, you get even more distractable, and you end up coming up with even more cool stuff you want to do and try.

I do this constantly. I get excited about an idea, and I dive into it head-first.

Then I over-do it, and I get tired.

Then I get even more distractable and scattered, and I find all sorts of other things to explore and do and study, and I end up in that classic spin-cycle where I’m dashing from one idea to the next, one project to the next, one new passion to the next, and-and-and-and… well, you get the picture.

And before I know it, I’ve worn myself out, gotten irritable and angry over every little thing, I’ve become useless to my spouse, I’ve holed up in my study, and I’ve come to really despise myself, the world, and everyone around me.

All because I found something really great to get into, and I overdid it.

When you’re dealing with an injured brain — even a mild traumatic brain injury — you can end up spinning in circles over every little thing — including the things you love.

That’s where I’m at right now — spinning, because I haven’t figured out how to say “no” to new things I’ve discovered that appeal to me. I’ve got so much energy going on, right now, it’s crazy. But it’s also making me crazy, because it’s blinding me to the things I’ve already started that I need to finish, which is just adding to my sense of overwhelm and frustration.

So, this is my focus for the month of March — to quit taking on all sorts of new and different activities, and just keep on with the things I started months ago. I’ve got several books about TBI in the works — three of them at are mostly done, based on posts I wrote on this blog over the years that have gotten a lot of interest and need to be expanded. I’ve got some really good ideas that have been on the back burner, just because my distractable brain keeps saying “oooh – shiny!” and running in all sorts of different directions.

That’s enough of that, thank you very much.

It’s time to say “Nope, not today,” and get on with the work I started months, even years, ago.

Onward!

Dealing with TBI Burnout – Part I

It can be a real pain in the ass, to constantly adjust to a mis-behaving brain. All that adjustment can burn you out. And that’s pretty much what’s happening to me. I’m doing a lot, and I’m making great progress. But I’m also wearing myself down, and the more tired I get, the harder everything becomes, and the worse my brain mis-behaves.

And the more I have to adjust and adapt.

Which takes more time and energy.

Man, oh, man… there is so much I want to do. And it’s all good.It’s not only for me- it’s for others, as well. But I’m pushing myself too hard and too long, and it’s burning me out. To the point where I just want to walk away from it all. Take the $700 I have in the bank and just split. Forget about everything I am planning, all the things I want to do and experience, and just say “screw it all”. Just leave. And never look back.

Part of me feels like it should be enough for me to just be functional. To just get through the day and  find some enjoyment in my life. Who cares about making a difference in the world?  It’s never going to work, anyway.

That’s what the tired-out voice in my head is saying, these days.

You know, it’s funny… Now that I look at things, I realize that I may be getting sucked into someone else’s idea of what “awesome” is. I’ve been spending a fair amount of time thinking about and planning launching a formal business for all my various undertakings… really becoming independent in whole new ways. The thing of it is, that’s probably not the way I should go. I should probably not aim for total independence, because I know as well as anyone that if I go solo and have the chance to withdraw from the world, I will. I’ll isolate. I’ll stop interacting with anyone outside my immediate circle. I will stop being social, and I will hide myself away like a hermit.

Is that really the best thing for me? Or my business?

No.

I need to be out and about. I need to be social. It forces me to improve, to be better, to interact. And it’s good for me and my brain.

My tired-out brain…. That gets fixated on a Single Idea — in this case, becoming independent in every sense — and telling the rest of the world to go screw. That gets worn out and desperate and frustrated and starts fantasizing about some pretty much impossible/implausible goal off in the future, which takes me away from my present.

Good grief. All along, I’ve been convinced that I was working towards a cohesive goal… when I’ve actually been burned out and pushing myself harder and harder to Get There, just to keep the pain and frustration and anxiety at bay.

I don’t want to be 100% independent and blocked off from the rest of the world. I want the freedom to experiment and try things and relax… and not have to work 18 hours a day, every single day.  I want to be able to kick back and enjoy the progress I’ve made… enjoy the process of doing all the things I love to do. I can’t keep putting all that pressure on myself to “execute my plans”, day after day.

I need to stop doing this to myself. I need a break.

From myself.

So I can quit burning myself out.

That’s a bad habit.

Wouldn’t it be nice to have fun, every now and then?

No talking. Please, no talking.

Huh?

I’m having a lot of trouble dealing with talking today.

Reading and writing is completely different — it’s the talking that’s a problem for me. My brain is not in the mood to process vocalized thoughts. It’s in action mode, and when I’m “seeing” in my head all the steps I have to go through, someone talking to me really disrupts my thought process and irritates the living daylights out of me.

I just don’t feel like I have the bandwidth — no, it’s more than that. I don’t feel like devoting the bandwidth to verbal discussion. If someone wants to talk to me, they can write it down or draw me a picture.

It occurred to me this morning, while my spouse was talking and talking and talking about all the things we need to take care of, that some people just talk to make themselves feel better. They aren’t interested in communicating. They aren’t interested in listening. They aren’t even interested in making sense to anyone else. They just want to self-soothe with words, because it makes them feel better.

Augh! Please. It’s so frustrating and irritating and counter-productive. Talking should be reserved for communicating ideas that need to be acted upon or processed by both people, not just soothing the frazzled nerves of the person speaking. It’s really inconsiderate and narcissistic to go on and on, without regard for anyone except yourself. It’s all about your nerves, your anxiety, your pain — not about anything necessary or productive or useful for anyone else.

Anyway, that’s my little rant for the morning. I’m having a good morning, actually — very quiet, aside from the chatter. And I’m working from home today, so we can go pick up the new car we got.

It’s all good.

Quiet is nice.

Onward.

 

Making the most of… everything

Focusing on the good… trying, anyway

Well, my time off is winding down. It’s Friday, and it’s my last day off work for quite some time. It’s been a good week, although being off my usual schedule has proven to be both a blessing and a real challenge.

It’s been so great to get things done that I’ve been thinking about for quite some time. It’s also been great, getting some time in, just thinking things through, focusing in on what I want to do with myself this coming year, and getting clear on what I do NOT want to do.

The challenge has been spending a lot of time with my spouse. I’ve mentioned their anxiety a lot of times, so I don’t want to belabor the point. Suffice it to say, it’s not easy living in close quarters with someone who is afraid of their own shadow and has anxiety about every little thing, and spends countless hours stewing about their anxieties to justify them — and amplify them.

It’s pretty taxing for me to deal with their constant anxiety. It’s a total drain, and I end up fatigued — and incredibly cranky. It’s not much fun for either of us. I just need to remember that they’re not 100% like they used to be. They’re declining, and they need some extra help and assistance and patience. I just wish I didn’t get so exhausted by the whole thing.

Whew! In that respect, it’s going to be good to get back to work. I’ve caught up on my sleep, somewhat, and I’ve gotten a lot of ducks in a row, so now I can move forward with steady steps and progress. The main thing is, I’ve had time to think… and walk around in the woods while I’m thinking. That’s gotten my head on straight and kept me from veering off in a bazillion different directions. And that, in itself, is a very positive step for 2015.

I’m a little irked that I have to go back to work on Monday. But I’m also glad. I’ve missed the company of my “work tribe” and also the daily routine. If I had my own business and a regular routine around my own endeavors, it would be one thing, but this past week has been a bit of a mad dash to get in as much “extra-curricular” stuff as I can, while I can. Having a regular schedule, with a regular sleeping pattern is also very important, and I’ve had a few late nights, this past week, which have thrown me off. Including New Year’s.

That’s one of the reasons I really hate New Year’s. My spouse wants me to stay up, but I just want to go to bed at 10:00. One year, I got to do that, and it was heaven. But with my spouse… different story.

Anyway, in a few more days I can go back to my regular schedule, and it’s not all that bad. I’ve gotten my head screwed on straight about my priorities, and I’ve broken down a bunch of larger undertakings into smaller bite-size pieces, so I’m not so overwhelmed with all the details. I have places to start, and I’m starting. Heck, I’ve more than started. I’m well on my way. And I’ve made a good beginning already. I’ve been geared up for 2015 for a couple of months, now.

So, onward! I’m doing a road trip with my spouse today. We’ll see how that goes. The two of us are pretty tired of each other, right about now, but this is our last day to spend the whole day together. So, we might as well make the most of it, put our differences aside, and just enjoy each other’s company when we have it.

Today I don’t have to DO anything. I can just be. We’ll see how that goes ;)

Watch… and learn

Watching what happens

I’m having a strange morning. I got up a little later than usual, and I worked out — got in my five mile bike ride and did some stretching. My spouse woke up nervous and started to pull on my attention, which got me a little pissed off. I needed to concentrate, I hadn’t had my coffee yet, and they kept talking to me and asking me questions and haggling with me over various things, like what to eat for supper, what we’re going to do later for shopping, and how we’re going to manage our day. They’ve got a business thing they’re doing tomorrow afternoon, and I’m helping them with it. That will get me out of the house and give me some time to go do other things while they’re having their meeting. So, we have a fully weekend ahead of us, and they’re anxious. So am I. I hate to admit it, but I’m quite anxious about the prospect of spending a lot of time with them over the next two days. I really don’t want to do all of it. I want to just move at my own pace and not be pressured. I don’t want to deal with crowds and stores and all of that. It’s overwhelming, and it gets to be too much for me during Christmas shopping season. But it’s all got to get done. So, I’ll do it. I’ll do it, and be done with it. And try to have a good time, in the meantime. Keep my sense of humor. Not take things to heart. Keep it light. And watch my sh*t. I noticed that I was getting really bent out of shape with my spouse — I was getting very tense and irritable and starting to do little things to provoke them. Not good. It was not helping.  So, I backed it off and changed the subject. I told a joke. I quit doing those little things that I know bother them. I got a grip and extracted myself from the conversation before it escalated — as it so often does — into a full-blown argument that throws us both off for the rest of the day… sometimes longer. Backing off works. So does taking a close look at how things are happening with me… to make sure I don’t fly off the deep end and dig us deeper into a hole of antagonism and anger. The good news is, it worked. Backing off and changing the subject and making a joke, all really helped to diffuse the tension. And we are back on track to having a nice day together, without all the drama and agitation. If I can pay attention to what’s happening with me and modulate my behavior and responses, so much the better. I’ve been doing better about that, lately. Part of the impetus is that I’ve been mentioning my behavior issues to my healthcare providers, and they are all looking at me with that “meds” look in their eye. I don’t want to go on meds. I have nothing against other people using them. But I don’t want to have to take pills to keep myself on track. Sometimes they are medically necessary. I don’t believe they are for me. Or maybe they are, and I’m just digging in my heels and resisting the inevitable. I’ve never been comfortable with drugs — even when I was drinking heavily and smoking a pack of cigarettes a day, I wasn’t into drugs. They make me feel weird and off, and they mess up my head. So, no thanks. But if I become a danger to myself and others because of my volatility and aggression, then someone may put me on something. And I don’t want that. Because taking a pill for something makes it possible for me to live my life without developing the skills I need, in and of myself. If I have attentional problems, I want to solve them by developing my innate ability to attend to things. If I have cognitive issues, I want to develop my brain and my thinking techniques to improve. I believe that a whole lot can be achieved by developing the human system — the one we already have — and drugs distance us from that possibility. They relieve us of the duty to do so, as well as the impetus to change. We can take a pill and be done with it. No more work needed, other than remembering to take your meds. I’m oversimplifying, I know. There are many, many people who cannot help themselves or who just need meds to keep things sorted. And I’m really glad they have that option. For me, I’m just more comfortable working on things myself. That way, I won’t be dependent on insurance to get me my medications. And I have more freedom of choice about what I do for work and what benefits I need. I am fiercely independent, and it makes me really nervous to depend on anyone for anything.  Self-sufficiency is the way for me. Like I said, everyone has their own way of doing things, and I have no problem with people doing things differently. Whatever works for you… I’ve got no argument against it. And I reserve the right to keep my independence and improve where I can, as best I can. I watch. I learn. I adjust and fix what appears to be “wrong”. And I move on. Life goes on. Yes, it certainly does. Onward.