First of all, a brain injury can be different for each person. However, there are a few symptoms that are often universal: headaches (of course), nausea, sleep disturbances, depression and anxiety. I have all of them. Recently, I had an appointment with a neuro-psychologist who administered a three hour neurophysiological diagnostic test. He stressed that the biggest problem in healing from a brain injury is that the symptoms are pretty cyclical: you feel badly so you get depressed, but then your depression makes your other symptoms worse and so on.
I’m definitely getting better, it is just progressing slowly. The part of my brain that was injured is one of the most complex parts; it regulates basically everything. If I do too much and overwhelm it (which can happen by simply getting emotional), it just starts shutting off non essential functions such as memory, word recall, concentration and so forth. That is a lot better than say stopping my heart.
So what is a typical day like for me now? I’m
Much better than I was a few months ago.Basically, my life is now wrapped around anti-nausea medication. I plan my activities around when I take it. I don’t like taking it because it is linked to weight gain which I have seriously been noticing. Before taking it (I had been on Zofran) I was throwing up about three times a day. The new medicine changed it to about three times a week, which is far better.
About half or so of mornings I wake up with a strong headache. About half of that time it goes away within the first hour/cup of coffee. Coffee in the morning feels particularly essential. I often think of Donald Trump’s renown “Covfefe!” as one of my first thoughts. It definitely means coffee with pre-coffee spelling.
The morning is usually when my day is determined. If I feel well, I can be up for a while and if not, I generally have to lie down and rest a bit more.
My mind has been a lot more clear as of late. It had been a long time since I woke up forgetting who I was. Progress. Slow progress.
The afternoon can be ok and if it is I generally try to do various activities like light housework or photography with lots of breaks. I’m not driving right now so everything is centered around things I can do at home.
If it is an off day, I spend more of that time resting. I usually push myself to do a few small things even if it is a hard day because it is pretty hard on my morale if I don’t.
At night I generally use my stationary bike to exercise for a few miles. This is where it gets tricky- if I poorly time it and forget my anti nausea medicine I often throw up. If I remember to take it just before exercising, it is usually fine.
During my daily downtime I am often on Instagram or Pinterest, listening to Charles Dickens on audible (I’m on my eleventh book since hitting my head), knitting or just sleeping.
Photography has helped me through this past year very much. Even if I am poorly, I can usually snap a quick photo if I plan the composition beforehand. It gives me a huge morale boost to be able to do something creative.
I think this is a boring read. My life can get rather tedious so I suppose it is appropriate. I don’t mind that though- I have a personality where I can do the same thing for weeks (I’ve listened to about 300 hours of Dickens since hitting my head!) and am sad that I’m running out of his books.
I do struggle with anxiety- you want to know the funny thing? My number one anxiety is that my head is actually fine and that I just made this up because I’m a hypochondriac. Ha! I go to weekly cognitive therapy. In case you doubt me- my therapist assures me that I am not a hypochondriac and that this is all real. Isn’t that strange though? The anxiety that makes my symptoms worse is the fear of me making things worse by overthinking. Alas!
I found out that I’ve been low in iron, so I’ve been taking supplements- it has made a noticeable difference. I made dinner tonight which was, I think, the first night in months that dinner wasn’t something just getting reheated in the oven- even that was too much for me for many nights.
While I am looking forward to getting my old life back, I am thankful for what this experience has taught me. I’ve especially learned to be kind to myself and to actually ask for help.
And lest you think my life is a blue fairytale- that is just photography. This is dinner that I made two nights ago.
And here is my very clean bedside table. Note the bottles for stomach ailments and antidepressants haha. There’s also usually more empty tea cups. The pile of money is Katherine buying a movie from Amazon. Just balancing the pretty photos with a bit of reality!