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

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