Monday, 19 June 2017

The face of Concussion

The face of concussion
from Mary Thistle
from Shana
from Marty and Ana

Since I'm sitting here with a wheat bag on my neck and shoulders (actually that was now 3 weeks ago!) I thought it would be a good time to talk about the symptoms I have from Post Concussion Syndrome.

The following  are the symptoms I suffer from:
  • Headaches-daily, always a band around my head that gets very tight if I have to concentrate on something. I also get sharp stabbing pains and cold chills in my head. These are called ice pick headaches.
  • Fatigue- my energy levels are very low and a simple task such as making a couple of coffee exhausts me.
  • Nausea-at first this was constant however now only if I'm in a car, very tired, moving my head if looking at a screen and some of my therapy exercises - ha!
  • Balance-my balance is off, especially if I get up too quickly or turn too quickly, then I will overbalance and lurch when I start walking.
  • Dizziness-this is connected to my balance and focus, the room spins, slowly but it is really debilitating and often adds to the nausea. It seems like my world is always moving, literally.
  • Light sensitivity-my eyes are very sensitive to direct sunlight, car lights, and artificial lighting such as in shops. When I'm outside I wear a big straw hat or cap and sunglasses. I wear sunglasses in my therapists' offices and the few cafes and shops I go to.
  • Sound sensitivity- certain noise sounds like its drilling into my skull such as birds chirping, electric power tools, some voices and laughs. I have earplugs that I can use to filter out the noise. 
  • Sleep - despite the fatigue I suffer from insomnia and very vivid, exhausting dreams. I have medication for this.
  • Disconnection-when I'm out in the shopping centre or cafe I have a disconnect with what is around me, it feels like there is a thin glass sheet that separates me from the rest of the world.
  • Sensory overload-I can't go into a shop and look for particular items on shelves because I can't filter out what I don't want to see or need to see. The overload makes me feel very dizzy and nauseous
  • Memory and concentration-I have problems with my short term memory and concentrating on conversations and simple tasks if they are not for short periods of time.

I don't have all of these symptoms all the time, it very much depends on what I am doing.  For example, the headaches mostly depend on what I'm doing and how much I have to concentrate. The sound and light sensitivity is mostly when I'm outside of my home. If I don't move my balance is fine (obviously) and the room spinning is minimised.

You can see there are two sides or aspects of Post Concussion Syndrome, the physical and the cognitive.   Obviously, the physical symptoms make me feel unwell especially on days where they are intensified. The cognitive symptoms prevent me from functioning really well when trying to complete tasks and really impact on my ability to be a teacher at the moment.

I am lucky I have a team of therapists and support people who work with me  to manage these symptoms on a day to day basis as well as working on reducing them. In my next post, I'll talk about my therapy and what life looks like for me at the moment.

Hopefully, this post is helpful in understanding the complicated facets of Post Concussion Syndrome.

You can find more information here:
http://www.health.govt.nz
Noted
Brainline.org

I am grateful for my Mum who was recently here for a week and cooked, cleaned, shopped, drove and kept me entertained. Love you, Mummy.

Thanks for reading,
Rachael xo

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Upside Down

flowers from my school
sweet Get Well notes from my students
The Cheesecake Shop yummy treat from my Pip, my classroom neighbour
part of rehab is gentle soothing activities
these two are very happy with the current situation
On March 10, I had a car accident. A guy who was texting while driving in the middle of torrential rain, think Cyclone Danielle, ran into the back of me. It wasn't a big hit but it did move my car forward and my seat slid backwards and forwards on its runner. I was looking in the rear vision mirror, watching him approach, knowing he wasn’t watching. The Princess was sitting in the passenger seat, I flung my arm across her to protect her. The guy who hit us didn't get out of his car so I got out of mine and got his number plate while standing in torrential rain with cars everywhere. The Princess didn't want me to get out because she was worried about my road rage haha.

The lights changed to green and we carried on. In fact, I went through McDonald's drive-through getting the Princess dinner, picked up a bottle of red wine and Pad Thai for the Cowboy and I. Apart from a burning sensation on the right-hand side of my back I felt fine.

The next morning I woke up and felt like I had been hit by a truck, not a car. I felt so bad the Cowboy took me to a Doctor who diagnosed whiplash and concussion.

Since that day I have not been back to my job as a teacher.  I have a range of symptoms that are isolating and debilitating.

My life has been turned upside down, my days during the week revolve around different kinds of therapy.

One of my therapists suggested I start a gratitude journal as I quite often feel sorry for myself even though I try not to. I have a list of things I'm thankful for and lucky to have in my life such as the Cowboy who is looking after me exceptionally well, my beautiful Princess, my family and my friends.  I'm thankful for my school supporting and a health system rehabilitating me.

I thought I would use my blog as my gratitude journal and blog my rehabilitation journey. It might also be helpful for other people experiencing the same journey.

I make no apologies for the style of my writing, grammar and punctuation, anyone with this condition will understand how hard it can be to communicate.

Today I am especially grateful for technology that allows me to sit here and talk at the screen and let the iPad do the typing for me.

xo Rachael