So, I after my last hospital visit, I thought I was feeling better. I thought it would be like my previous concussions (no, this was not my first), and I would take some ibprofen and get through it. I went back to work the Monday following. I should note that I have a job that is significantly more stressful than the average person. I am most definitely not trying to say that other jobs are not stressful, but I work in a field where the baseline stress in unusually high. I do not recall those weeks when I returned, before I got in to see the specialist I had been referred to. My memory is not good, but I do recall emotions, and events that are tied to stronger emotions. I recall the feeling that something was wrong- I remember feeling like my head was cloudy; I probably recall this because I still feel this way, though I am sure it is not to the same extent.
The same day I saw the specialist, I was told that I should not be working and immediately had to stop. For the next couple of months, I was off work; however, I can only recall a couple of days from that entire time- I do not feel like I was ever off... I went to intensive therapy 3-4 days per week, and had home exercises to do as well. As I previously stated, I had double vision; unfortunately, this is still something I deal with. My glasses help, and it is getting better, but I have really bad days when I can barely even focus with my glasses on.
I went off work at the end of October 2013, and returned January 2014. My recollection of my return is virtually non-existent; I have no memory of this time, other than a time I physically hid under my desk to try to avoid the pain that all the sounds and lights were causing; I never realized how loud my workplace was until this.
In May 2014, my Dad was hospitalized; in June, he passed away. I can recall many of the events during this time, but only pertaining to my family and my feelings. I can clearly recall the day he was hospitalized, the day before he died, and the day of his death. I think this is because I had such strong emotions.
During this time, I unintentionally neglected my care. I stopped going to the doctors, and I think I stopped caring for myself in general. I had other things I needed to focus on- or at least try to.
Before my head injury, I did not suffer from depression or severe mood swings. Since my head injury, I cry over everything, lose focus and attention, get very angry for no apparent reason, and feel more withdrawn. I am slower at completing work, I start things and tasks that I do not finish, and I have serious organization issues. In the summer/fall of 2014, I decided to return to the doctor to get some help. I underwent different cognitive tests, only to get frustrated after being told my concussion had healed. I know that I kept asking "why" I was so different than I was before, if the concussion had healed? I was finally referred to another neurologist and psychiatrist, who specialized in TBI. I was told that I had TBI, and that I also had symptomatic ADHD, precipitated by the head trauma. I was placed on low-dose anti-depressants at Christmas 2014, and the dose has been doubled twice since. I am finally starting to feel some relief from the constant crying, anger, and frustration, but it would be a definitely lie to say that I do not struggle. Even in writing this blog I have cried several times. I still don't believe how difficult it is for me to write about all this.
The psychiatrist helped me to not feel so crazy. He told me that I was experiencing the struggles of those with TBI, and that though it technically was all in my head, it was not all in my mind (if that humor makes sense) :). I felt a sense of relief that I was not somehow creating these symptoms, that they were so-called "normal". My follow-up visits have all been reminders, and I write them down so that I do not forget.
Be the reason someone chose not to give-up.
Photo credit to https://beacon.wharton.upenn.edu/entrepreneurship/2014/11/scale-your-mindset/