Updated: Dec 12, 2018
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What will this post cover?
- The game plan
The Journey of Recovery
On September 18, 2018, I was hit by a field hockey stick in the neck in the T1/T2 section. I didn't know the severity of my injury until later. I made the mistake of not telling anyone about the incident until later on. That was probably the biggest mistake I made so even if you are unsure if you got a concussion or not, make sure you inform someone about what happened and go see a doctor. No matter if it is a tiny little bump, you must go to a doctor. Even if you don't get any headaches tell someone. Don't leave anything to chance especially when it comes to the well being of your head.
After getting hit, I didn't feel any symptoms yet. The spot where I got hit hurt, but that was it. Then 3 hours later, I started getting headaches and my neck was hurting so I went to the hospital. The doctor did a physical examination of me. He had me move my head in different ways. He made me turn my head left and right. Then he said that I should take a break from gym class and to take it easy for a few days.
I took a day off from school and worked from home. The next day I went back to school and wore a neck pillow because it was comfy for my neck. I continued going to school for 9 days. Through the 9 days, my headaches were increasingly painful.
On September 28, 2018, 10 days from attaining my concussion, all my symptoms appeared. I was taken to the hospital again and was diagnosed with a concussion. I continued to get headaches but I got a lot more symptoms such as:
- I didn't know what classes I had to go to
- Sometimes I would stop mid-sentence and completely forget what I was saying
- I kept walking into walls and doorways
- Whenever I walked I would lean to the left and end up hitting the lockers
Sleep (I think this was another big sign that something was wrong)
- Every class that I attended I fell to sleep (also I never fall asleep in class)
- I slept, at the worst, 18-24 hours a day
- At the hospital I forgot my birthday
- I brought pencils and paper wherever I went because I kept forgetting things
- It occurred whenever I looked at screens on devices
- Worsened when I overexerted myself
- Problem solving was difficult for me
- I couldn't solve math equations that I could solve before the concussion
- I couldn't organize my thoughts like I used to
- I couldn't process information as quick as I used to be able to
Another thing to note is, sometimes that gut feeling you have that something is wrong is right. If you feel like something is sort of off, then that should be another sign that there is something wrong.
I also learned that mood and personality changes are other symptoms. I did not experience it, in fact, all my doctors, friends, and family said that somehow, throughout this mess, I never failed to be positive. I think that knowing that concussion symptoms are only temporary is a big thing to keep in mind. Try your best to stay positive despite how tough it can be. Trust me, it helps.
When did I stop feeling symptoms
At the beginning (first few months) I continued to experience all the symptoms. Then in the fourth month after getting my concussion, I stopped getting headaches and nausea. Then after a little under a month, I got the headaches and nausea again. Then after another month, my nausea, sleep and balance problems went away. After a few weeks, my headaches went away. Then after another few weeks my headaches came back. Then after another few weeks my headaches, memory problems, and cognition problems mostly went away. Sure, now after a complete year after getting my concussion, I still get some symptoms but they are no where as severe as how they were before.
How much time I stayed away from school
One of the questions you may have when you get a concussion is, "How much time do I have to stay away from work/school?" Well, here's the short answer, everybody is different and our ways of recovering are very different, so there is no exact amount of time for each individual. Me, I stayed at home for 3 months before returning to school. It took a few months before I finally re-integrated back into the school curriculum.
The doctors and health professionals that I saw
Dr. Mark Levine - the miracle worker
So this one I can do a little more explaining. He works with craniosacral therapy which is pretty much working on the back and neck. I learned that when you get an injury, your body becomes a tense ridged mass. In the moment, I had never realized it, but I must have been really tense before because when I went to go see Dr. Levine, I left so much more relaxed. Dr. Levine is a really good doctor and while he's working on you he explains what he's doing. Trust me, this guy just explodes with knowledge.
I learned from him that when you get an injury the pain and damage does not always occur where the injury is. For example, I got a concussion, a field hockey stick hit my neck yet besides the concussion symptoms I was having troubles with my stomach. I learned that when you get an injury your body spends all of its energy trying to fix what is broken. Since all the energy is being spent on the injury other systems in your body get less energy and can stop functioning properly. Apparently my stomach wasn't functioning properly and my gut wasn't cleaning out stuff properly and I was left with lots of toxins in my body. Great right? Couldn't get worse is what I thought. Well it did. So, those toxins had no where else to leave from since my stomach was working so it left through one of the body's largest organs. My skin. Read more about my troubles with the Weepy Itchy Red Eczema that I got.
You can visit his website here https://www.marklevine.ca/Mark_Levine/Home.html.
Dr. Areef Nurani - the everything doctor
I went to see Dr. Nurani for vision therapy. Once you know you've got a concussion this is the first doctor you must see. Vision therapy is key to getting back on your feet. At Dr. Nurani's office, he has a lot of high-tech stuff that he uses to examine what reading level you're reading at. Must say that the coolest thing I did there was testing my reading level. It was important that when I returned to school, I could keep up with the reading because as we all know, high school is about drilling through thousands of textbooks. Also I was an avid reader so for me reading at the pace of a snail was not going to work for me. So Dr. Nurani placed special glasses with smart technology on me. These glasses could track my eye movement to ensure that they were moving in sync. One cool thing I learned from doing this was after getting my concussion, my eyes would jump a lot. I would read left to right and then in the middle of the sentence I would jump back to left by a few words. Also, around this time my skin issue had come up and Dr. Nurani suggested that I should take a lot of Vitamin D - it healed my skin the first time. Dr. Nurani is extremely knowledgeable and helped me with all my issues. No joke. This guy was our concussion specialist, vision therapist, naturopath, and nutritionist.
You can visit the clinic's website here https://www.vicvilo.com/.
Dr. Betty Rozendaal - the savior
I was put in contact with Dr. Rozendaal for my eczema but she also helped me with my concussion. At her clinic, Thornhill Naturopathic Health Clinic, I learned that headaches should not be considered normal. I was told that headaches is your body telling you there is something wrong. So never pass a headache saying "Oh it's just a headache." because there very well could be something behind it. You can get in contact and visit her website to find more information here http://www.thornhillnaturopathic.ca/.
Dr. Joseph Kellerstein - the problem solver
I probably had over three visits with Dr. Kelerstein for my concussion. Dr. Kelerstein prescribes homeopathic medicine to help your body get back to functioning properly. Dr. Kerstein listens to all of your symptoms and finds the best remedy for you. When i visited him the first time I had all the symptoms and Dr. Kelerstein prescribed a certain remedy. Then the next time I saw him I had fortunately lost a few of my symptoms and he gave me a new remedy to suit the symptoms that I still had left. Every visit he took my symptoms and came up with a solution.
You can reach Dr. Kellerstein here http://www.drjoend.com/.
Dan Palma - the best osteopath ever
Everyone in my family has seen Dan to get "tuned up." Honestly you tell him what's wrong and he'll fix it. Dan is an osteopath and has helped a ton of people recover from concussions. When I met with Dan, I told him about how I got hit and right away he checked my neck and told me that it was extremely stiff because that's where I got hit. He then examined my head and neck and gave me some tips to make sure I don't put any more strain on my neck.
You can reach Dan here https://hmccentre.com/palma-dan/.
How I improved my recovery at home
Diet, physical activity, rest, mood, keeping a journal, and puzzles are all things that you can keep an eye on by yourself. These five things you can track at home and so you should do the following everyday but especially on days when you are feeling so bad you can't leave your home.
Diet. What you eat is very important when you have a concussion. To recover faster eat more protein and fatty-er foods (but good fats). A good fat would be coconut and proteins you should eat are meat and eggs.
Physical Activity. I learned from Holland Bloorview Hostpital that exercising can improve recovery speed too. I was apart of their study that was try to prove that exercising can help with people who have concussions so I can tell you first hand that it does. Everyday I would spend time indoor cycling , doing balance and eye coordination activities, and sports related drills. I must say that during and after I exercised, I had full on concussion symptoms, but then half and hour to and hour after exercising, my symptoms would be better than they were before exercising. The science behind it? When you have a concussion, you get an A+ in sleeping. I slept through a full day and would still wake up disoriented and that feeling that something wasn't quite right. Since, you are sleeping so much, your body becomes slower and your blood flow is not as fast. Once you exercise, your heart is constantly pumping blood to your heart and to your head. Your head needs this circulation to heal itself. When exercising, make sure you are being spotted. Be safe.
Rest. It is important to rest after getting a concussion. Trust me. If you don't get rest immediately, you will be constantly playing catch-up with yourself. You need a week off? Ok take that week to rest. You need a year? Take that year. If your body is telling you take a rest, don't ignore it, you will regret it. If you're reading this article, you either know you have a concussion or you're scared you have a concussion. Let me tell you, if it's either you're ahead of the game. I didn't know I had a concussion until ten days after. What could have taken four weeks rest ended up being a good four months for me to recover.
Mood. If you're going old school by doing the DIY Heal Yourself At Home After A Concussion, listen to this. The one thing you miss out by not seeing a doctor is you don't have their support. One of the most influential things that my doctors all gave me was hope. When I first got my concussion, I thought, "Okay I'll be good in about a week". Two weeks later I begun to fret that I would have these symptoms forever. Imagine how I felt at three months later? In the back of my head I knew I'd be on my feet eventually but it felt like it was going to take forever. Every doctor I saw told me the same thing, "Remember to always stay positive. This concussion won't last long. Before you know it you'll be fine. These symptoms aren't permanent." Trust me, hearing that is needed.
Keeping a journal. Record/log everything. It helps because with a concussion it's hard to remember every little thing. Like I had a headache in the top left corner on the side of my head. If you were to see a doctor and they asked you where you have your headaches, there's no way you would remember that not to mention the other 500 headaches you get in a day. It's also good for yourself to see the improvement from day one and to compare today and then. It shows you that there has been progress.
Puzzles. Test yourself. Do logic puzzles. I did GENIUS - word puzzles for kids. I would read the puzzle. Write down my answer in a notebook and then write down the answer and how to solve it. It's good to do them because it keeps your brain active. The photos below are examples to questions I solved. The photos also display the format that I would show the question, answer, and how to solve it. Looking back after a certain time, you will look at your book full of the puzzles and think, "Wow I couldn't solve that back then!?!" It gives you solid evidence that your brain did heal.
Hopefully that by keeping up with all the at home remedies, you can continue healing your brain by yourself.
In conclusion, I hope you have learned a lot from my experiences. To those who are just reading this for some "light reading", I know that there is a lot of information. And to those who have a concussion or know someone who has a concussion, this is hopefully enough information to keep you going. Thank you to my family, teachers, doctors, and supporters. I've left this journey as a stronger person and I feel that even though this tough part in my life is almost over, it has changed me as a person for the better.