Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Thoughts: On Self-Reflection & Recovery.

As part of recovery, I've been working a lot on self-reflection; really listening and being attentive to what my body is feeling and what stimulus or sources cause those sensations. Like myself, you might have assumed that concussion is a strictly physical injury. Well, I'm here to tell you that if you should ever be diagnosed with a concussion there is a high likelihood of emotional symptoms as well. In my case, and typical of many others, I experienced mood swings, anxiety, irritability and dealt with depression.

At the beginning of my injury I couldn't do much more than lay in bed without getting intense headaches, light-headedness, dizziness, and nausea. I had light and sound sensitivity, couldn't read or focus on detail and had a hard time generally moving and focusing on any one thing. Multi-tasking has always been an integral part of my functioning and suddenly I could only draw my attention to one single thought or idea at a time. Driving created a terrible cocktail of symptoms and was to be avoided. Most of the time these feelings would lead to panic (will I ever be able to function typically again?), usually accompanied by anger (this is such a simple task that I've done a thousand times, why is it so hard?!), and finally the general apathy, sadness and defeat as I'd retire to the couch with an eye-mask for a few more hours sans stimulus.

The best way I've found to describe the experience of recovery is kind of like restarting and recreating your daily routine. This meant, "reprogramming" my brain in a way so that it was no longer in a protective state and therefore creating symptoms. I've been working with medical doctors, a chiropractor, a physiotherapist, a massage therapist, and an optometrist over the last 3 months in order to get my variety of symptoms in check.

I'm happy to say that each day is getting better. This is all I can ask for, and something I'll gladly accept and show gratitude for. There was one point about a month in where I had made a lot of progress and then suddenly lost it. I was back two weeks in recovery, and was unable to do tasks that I had once reintegrated and done with ease. This was the hardest part. This part of the journey brought along a new companion: fear. The only thing my doctors and I could find as a cause was that I had just tried to move too fast literally and figuratively. Although I was following my prescribed activity levels and exercises, I had over exerted myself and my brain had something to say about that.

There are thousands of studies that exist about support systems and how they can effect someone's resiliency, recovery, and overall well-being. To imagine doing this without my family, husband, friends, and colleagues is unfathomable. I'm sure it wasn't easy for you either, and if I haven't already I'd like to take a second to apologize if you've had the joy of seeing some of my less than appealing emotions, but also thank you for being there despite them. Throughout this whole process I've had friends and family recommend doctors and therapies to me that have really helped get me to where I am.

I continue to see a physio and RMT weekly and have lists of vision, balance, and strengthening exercises that I go through daily. I've rekindled and grown my love for yoga, which has admittedly become a huge part of my days and my recovery. I've also been told  to go for walks and finally jogs (head permitting) as much as I want so if I'm not home, you'll probably find me and koda up on the creek banks. I'm beginning to reintroduce activities through my creative work, and it feels good. Every day is a new adventure and some days I make it further down the path than others, but at least I'm moving forward. I tell myself to "do good things" in the broadest sense because deadlines and timeframes are still a struggle if I truly listen to my body and stop when it tells me to.

On that note, I can feel my shoulders coming up to my ears, my neck getting stiff and my eyelids involuntarily wanting to shut; this means it's time to quit, take a break, breathe, exercise and try again later. I'm not out of the woods yet, but I'll be sure to do it in my own time. Although, I do pray that my timing coincides with the academic calendar so I can be back in the classroom this September.

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