Concussion and Traumatic Brain Injury
My personal journey...
The concussion, traumatic brain injury, happened 6/19/2012. My personal journey of a traumatic brain injury has been life-changing. Perhaps you know someone who has suffered traumatic brain injury or a concussion or perhaps you have, yourself. I invite you to share my journey and leave notes of your own personal journey. Here is my story:
All photos are by me, Bev Lemley. All the beginning photographs were taken the day I ventured out, about ten days after suffering the concussion ~ it's an interesting perspective! That day I was shaky and not really with it. God still gave me some wonderful photo ops. (All photos by Bev Lemley)
The event happened after giving blood. My blood pressure was 88/66. I tried to turn myself down twice, but I was assured it would be okay. I assumed the intake care provider knew something I didn't know, that is, that it's now safe at these readings; I trusted...big mistake.
Always remember! Your health and well-being are ultimately in your hands. Nobody else's...you will be the one to pick up the pieces, not them..
A very important message...
The local hospital that supplies blood to North Carolina, who was in charge of the blood mobile, refuses to accept responsibility for what happened.
IF YOU PLAN TO DONATE BLOOD:
Bottom line, take care of yourself. Eat well, drink a LOT of water for at least 48 hours before donating. If your blood pressure is abnormally low, think twice ~ no I'm making a bold statement, just refuse to give. Something is wrong for you on that day. You could easily be too dehydrated and not even be aware of it, which is probably what happened to me. It was one of our HOT 2012 summer days, and I had had a busy Father's Day weekend and probably didn't remember to "beef" up for the donation on Monday; that is, I should have significantly increased my water and food intake. Since I am gluten intolerant, that might have affected it, too.
Time how fast your blood is going out. Mine was nine minutes, pretty fast...ask the staff to monitor you and help you time it. This is important! Within an hour of donating, make sure you keep drinking fluids, for another 24 hours.
I hope to write a full Squidoo lens about the safety aspects of donating blood, but what I've outlined above is probably the most important pre-donation self-care you can pay attention to. Believe me, how well you take care of yourself before and after the donation is extremely important.
Giving blood is a serious issue. If you got hurt and lost that much blood, they would be giving you a transfusion. So take it seriously before and after, and give yourself a pat on the back for saving one life or maybe more than one. But most importantly, save yourself as well.
Now for my story...
Usually, I enjoy writing lenses and articles about happy things in nature, after all, in my spare time, my hobby is to hunt neat things in nature and capture them in a photograph. But lately the ventures out to take photos have been a bit sparse, at best, the birds have been wondering when I might come outside and leave some feed and change the birdbaths, and I've not cared too much if the raccoon did come at night and ransack everything.
And the little doe that likes to come visit? Well, since I didn't feel up to spraying the deer repellent, she mowed down all 3,000 of my daylilies. Right now, if she comes to visit, I just feel a little sorry for her being by herself.
And a little update ~ the little doe isn't by herself ~ she has a fawn now!
Whoa! Stop the craziness!
Right now, it's a bit hard to concentrate, but I remember the events pretty well. Mostly it was insane. Trying to move was like walking in one of those weighted balls that cats like to chase. Just thinking about it is craziness. A concussion was the last thing I thought had happened. The last conscious memory I had was feeling bad, and going to the bathroom. I remembered the donor instructions on the take-home sheet said to put your head down. Okay, I better do that; I really feel sick. That's the last thing I remember ~ lights out.
I came to, I was in a heap, a lump; everything was dead quiet. My thought was, "What are 'we' doing?!" Not what am "I" doing. So I don't know if angels were watching over me or not. I don't remember anything at all during this time period, which was between 12 and 15 minutes, based on a computer email I had just sent before I started feeling bad.
Holding on to the floor...
I was dizzy as could be. I could not even lie flat without feeling like I was going to fall off of the floor. I had no memory of what had just happened. I realized I must have passed out, so that helped evaluate the situation. My bottom lip really hurt and I wasn't sure if my nose was broken or not. Later I realized the top of my ear was really sore, I had a slight knot on my head ~ my jaw still hurts, weeks after.
Everything was surreal. Rolling over to get up was met with an "I don't think so!" Just holding on to the floor was all I could do ~ and I was home alone. I pulled out my cell phone, and after a few attempts to get the number right, I called up my hubby at work. "I just want to talk to someone," I said. I tried to explain I had passed out. My hubby said he was on his way home.
Symptoms of a Concussion
Dizziness, memory loss, feeling sick, nauseated, any kind of vision change, headache, unsteadiness, things rocking and rolling, feeling like you are going to fall off of the floor, noises are too much, staying on task, mobility problems, feeling of being overwhelmed.
Common sense dictates you should go to the ER immediately, or at least your family doc the next day. The problem is, after a concussion, you don't have much common sense!
After the storm...
The next few days were very topsy-turvey, literally. But I got a little steadier each day. My husband was pushing the Gatorade at me, trying to get my hydration back up. I have to say the Gatorade became my best friend. Thinking of doing even simple tasks were just too much. And I guess as a way to protect me, I didn't feel nudged that things needed to be done ~ the thoughts were wafting in and out, so to think about a task didn't stay too long.
Too much and not enough. Enough of the dizziness! And I started noticing things outside that needed to be done. It was time to visit the doc to get "over this," whatever "it" was.
I got fussed at for not going to the ER the day it happened. Ten days had passed since the event.
The day after the visit to the doc, I decided to make myself get out and take some pictures. Something I love to do, so surely it would "snap" me out of it. I didn't feel like it, but I think it was great therapy. This is a daylily that the little doe missed. It's about as tall as I am, so that's probably why she missed it. Anyway, it was great encouragement to see it eye-to-eye.
But the worst thing...
...is how I would start a task, and it would go "poof"! There would be no consciousness of what I was in the middle of! Only when I passed back by and I saw things hanging out or left open or still waiting to be done something with would I suddenly remember the task I was doing. How crazy is that! My hubby said that happens to him all the time, start doing something and get distracted. No, this is not like that. This is complete loss of short-term memory, for all I can figure. Nothing else could explain why there was no nagging feeling I had left something undone. By now we're about three weeks out, where I was starting to do more things.
My Hubby calls me crabby...
...it seems I don't have as much anxiety speaking my thoughts...I don't know if that's good or bad!
Update...see the end of the lens!
It has not been easy staying on task, and the great folks that pass work to me have been having to forgive me and try to help me out. There are occasions I looked at a word and I wondered how it's supposed to be spelled or what the meaning of it was. And on more technical issues, I'm having to re-learn some of it. I've been having to ask for clarification on some things I should have known. I suppose it could have been worse, and thank heavens I have great bosses!
I was able to work a few moments at a time on Squidoo; it was a great distraction to all the other issues. I don't know what that says about me or Squidoo, but hey, it got me through it to week four! And to think I took on those SquidWoot challenges, too! I was no competition, but at least it was forcing me to think...good or bad, I don't know!
After much waiting...
...and a few tests to rule out heart issues and such that may have caused the blacking out, we wait for an appointment to open up with the neurologist. I'm steadily improving and starting to take care of the birds again, as best I can. I still couldn't handle the sudden moves turning or holding my head back or forward. And I still have waves of feeling sick all of a sudden, followed by a bit of confusion and anxiety and not knowing if I should lie down or if I am going to throw up.
The good news is I am starting to catch myself sometimes before doing a task, going through all the steps to finish it. So instead of in the middle of it, it "vanishing into thin air," I am at least conscious that there's more to do, and think it through. It's almost like relearning how to do something! Crazy, for sure! I hope this continues to improve ~
...Yep, I had classic symptoms of a concussion. Whoa! His treatment would include putting the "rocks" back in my ear, evidently they had gotten knocked out, to help with the dizziness, seeing a neuropsychiatrist to help me with these memory issues, and an MRI to see what's going on. I was told it could take up to six months to get back to full strength ~ and to use common sense, if I can't do something, don't do it.
So I am hanging in there, feeling like things could be better, realizing I should have given myself a red light as far as giving blood, and wishing things were back to "normal."
For now, I am taking it one step at a time, in God's grace.
Have you ever dealt with a concussion?
Have you ever had a concussion?
Through God's grace and prayers, things are much steadier now ~ still slow...but so much better! I have to say thanks to family and friends for their prayers ~ thanks!
But the road was not quite back to home yet...
Cobwebs in the head
MRI today ~ man is that loud! Glad it's over!
Another week's gone by since the MRI. Waiting on the neuropsychiatry appointment, to help with the memory stuff. Problems like still not finishing tasks, running out of things, whereas I used to keep a good inventory of stuff (couldn't think of the word inventory!) I'm wondering how much longer the brain lapses will go on! Aggravating, for sure.
Five weeks out... - ...starting to think outside the loop...
I noticed I'm thinking of things outside my bubble more, like news things, and other things that matter. How ironic that you're glad to be getting better, just so you can think about things that make you feel bad!
Just watched the video of the history of making ice cubes, a YouTube video, The History of fIce Cubes, I think it's okay to get emotional ~ I'm not kidding! Watch the video, the whole ten minutes, and you'll see ~ it's well worth it!
Something new for me! I've noticed that I'm not nervous about things any more, and now I'm okay with being emotional, what's the problem? Maybe now I am prioritizing things in life better.
Why get shook up over the small things you have to face, and if seeing something that makes you teary, well, at least you're alive! And anyone who knows me will be glad and hopeful that when I have to do lay reading in Church worship service, I won't be sweating all over the place! It will truly be interesting if this big of a personality change has occurred. Nervousness has hampered me all my life. If I should walk boldly now? Maybe the nervousness will come back as I wade through the next weeks or months. But I am enjoying this for now! I am lay reader in a couple of weeks, so we'll see!
As you can see, I can still use prayers!
An update ~ lay reading went great, no nervousness, though I wasn't sure about the verses I read; they were a little confusing to me. This aspect of the concussion is terrific! My heart will start racing, but the brain doesn't make any moves to react. I know that sounds crazy, and, well, it probably is, but hey, if it fixes my nervousness, I think it's okay! I wonder what the neuropsychiatrist will say about that. I wonder if the blood mobile will want me to pay them for this unplanned benefit from passing out?!
It's been about seven, eight weeks. What happened is still affecting me in many aspects of my life! There are several stressors in the family right now, the poor pets are having issues, and a few other minor needs in the family. Nothing too great, but I can tell it's affecting me. I'm sort of swirly headed, and can't seem to think straight. I haven't fed the birds or changed the bird baths in three days. I suppose I should be thankful I'm still able to get a bath! My poor hubby ~ catching it at work and at home...and then there's the pets!
I suppose I'll have a little cheese with my whine... If I could just think straight! It's awful to keep coming across things I just stopped dead in the middle of, completely forgetting what I was supposed to be doing, until I come back across it. My oh, my...prayers!!
I am definitely trying to get more rest ~ trying is the operative word! It means things don't get done as they need to, but for right now, I think letting the ole brain get some rest is most important, trumps everything.
And I am seeing signs of improving! I am finishing more tasks now and not very dizzy! Hey! I even started driving yesterday, about 8 weeks post accident.
I've found out there is no bottom limit for blood pressure when giving blood! What?! That's insane! Well, I am proof things happen with that low blood pressure stuff; as I was perfectly fine before that fateful afternoon. For the last two months, I've been dealing with the consequences. Don't get me started on that campaign! I will have to work on getting the notion out to folks DO NOT GIVE BLOOD IF YOUR BP IS LOW! Good grief!
Well...for the most part, peace has returned!
This may change my course...
but it won't change where I'm going...
and that's wherever God leads me.
Just as this little hummingbird... - ....found an easier way ~ it's standing on a limb ~ so will I!
It's about three months out and I'm still grappling with things such as dizziness when I turn too quick or something, and the thinking misfires at times ~ and now the CDC ~ has issued a statement of their findings of brain injuries, reporting how head injuries can lead to Parkinson's Disease, Lou Gerig's disease, or onset of dementia. Hopefully I don't fall into that category, but since this was my second one, who knows.
I'm thankful for the progress I've made, for the patience of my family and friends. At this point I'm tired of letting the circumstances define my moments in a day...so I am through with acknowledging this cloud over me, literally and figuratively. I am now officially "done" with this concussion, as far as letting it slow me down. If it does, I will get through the puddle and keep going, as life takes us all down the stream and around the bend, whether we're ready for it or not. So, I'm in my boat, and I've grabbed an oar, and I'm setting sail ~ or am I supposed to be rowing?!
Either way, I'm on my way!
This little hummingbird is one of the pictures I've taken on this day, having deciding that...(see note that follows)...
This may change aspects of my life...
...but it won't change my journey.
Now Four Months Out... - ...update...
Four months out, still have lapses of finishing tasks ~ I had to throw away a can of cat food I opened last night that I forgot to put in the fridge. Argghhh! I'm learning new tactics to remember things ~ NOTES TO SELF WRITTEN OUT!!! are necessary, for sure. But with that help, I am at least less frustrated realizing what I've forgotten to do. I'm going to wait on the neuropsychiatry appointment until the six months are up. Maybe by then, I will be back to "normal."
I published a A Walk in a Fall Garden, can you believe fall is here?! I cannot believe that four months have passed, marking improvements from the injury, but still acknowledging things aren't quite where they should be. But I have two more months, according to the neurologist, for things to finish healing up.
This is a recent photograph...
Update on the little doe...October 8th, 2012 ~ I haven't seen her or her fawn now for about a month. I hope they're safe somewhere, eating happily.
When you have the truth in your heart...
The bloodmobile has refused to accept responsibility for the events that happened. The fact that I kept stumbling on this in my mind, trying to figure out how they can not care or be concerned or anything, was really tearing me down. Of course it's not right when you've been wronged! I had to deal with this, and God gave me a graceful way to deal with it. It's all about the truth. I know in my heart the full-blown truth, that I entrusted myself to health care professionals and their before and after donating instructions. The accident that happened within 45 minutes of leaving their bloodmobile was the end result of their care. I know the truth of what happened that day. They only care to protect and shield themselves from the truth ~ and of course, being responsible for the medical bills.
How do I come to terms with it? Whenever it gets overwhelming, I just ask God to shine the truth of that day around me. That the truth of that day is, in essence, MY shield. I pray that God will let the truth cover me, and shine His mercy and grace on me. I envision the truth being pure white, and that's what's covering me from all the "wrong." When I am bathed in His light, I know the rest doesn't matter. My gracious husband has assured me the bills are paid, don't worry. Between God's grace and my husband's kind support and love, I will go on, maybe one step at a time, one day at a time, one stumble at a time. Some days, one minute at a time...But God is with me, bathing me in His truth and grace. For now, I am staying the course and finding the road back home.
I have written about how a Christian can cope in When Times are Rough.
This picture was captured before a storm in our area that produced a beautiful rainbow. This was taken about a month after the incident.
ALMOST 5 MONTHS OUT... - ...Update
Wow, hard to believe, it's been almost five months since I suffered the concussion. I feel I am pretty much back to normal ~ YES! Thank God for His almighty watching over me and keeping me safe as I slowly healed.
Good hydration is something I would like everyone to be very conscientious about. When you are sitting around, playing cards or talking with family, make sure the older members, especially, but that everybody ~ is drinking water as you sit around. I know this sounds strange and obvious! Hopefully a little conscious raising will make everyone healthier and safer. Remember that caffeine only dehydrates you, so tea and coffee are not the greatest choices for drinking ~ make water the premier beverage!
The neurologist has released me of sorts, seeing me back in three months. I still grapple with focusing long enough to complete tasks, but I have either accepted it as the "New Me," or I'm getting most tasks done, probably a bit of both, as it doesn't bother me as much as it used to. I am very careful if I turn on the stovetop, making it a rule to never leave the room, knowing I would probably forget all about it. At least I can stick to a rule ~ strange how that focus thing works.
This is the rainbow after the storm, about a month out from the concussion.
After reading about my concussion...
For more tips, visit American Red Cross Tips for a Successful Donation
What is the most proactive thing to start doing?
Thank you so much for visiting and reading about my journey. As of 11/7/2012, I consider myself pretty much back to "normal."
I still get dehydrated pretty easily; I've learned that dizziness is a sign I should drink more water!
God bless you all, please pay attention to donor safety while giving blood ~ and feel great that you have helped to save at least one life by donating!
IS THIS THE END? I DON"T THINK SO! READ ON!
American Red Cross
Visit American Red Cross Tips for a Successful Donation and feel great about saving a life!
As part of the story told through pictures...
My sweet hubby gave me an early Christmas present of a new Sony camera ~ am I lucky or what?!
While trying it out, our neighborhood fox came in our yard. I was struck by her beauty. These next pictures are taken almost six months post concussion.
At the six months mark
Well, today marks six months. I have mixed emotions, as I still get bogged down in the negatives that mark the new "me." I have positives, too, so I will focus on those (pardon the pun).
I have no more headaches! That would make a lot of people envious! This is a mystery to me, as I used to get them 4 or 5 a week.
I no longer seem to have fear ~ I suppose this needs some explaining. My heart will start beating faster, and there are other physiological signs, but as far as the brain getting the message there is something to fear, and I should be taking action, it just doesn't hit. So being Lay leader at church has been a joy, finally getting to read Scripture without stage fright. I am also not afraid of other things that should give me caution, but fear just doesn't hit. I do have a good sense of using caution, though, so thank heavens for that. I am not about to walk into a room full of snakes, or take risks, I just don't have fear as I used to know it. Maybe God has a new plan for me.
I know I was saved by God's Grace, as I could have passed out while driving home, or more recently I've realized I could have thrown up the coke I had after giving blood (they didn't have GF snacks), while I was passed out, face down, for 20 minutes. I don't think I would have survived that, as I was knocked completely unconscious.
Tomorrow the blood mobile makes its round again to our church. I can only hope that the people I've spoken with, that is, the director of donor services at the hospital that sponsors the blood drives has instilled the safety items I've outlined for them. In case they may help someone, here they are ~ read next module:
IF YOU HAD AN ACCIDENT AND LOST THAT MUCH BLOOD....
YOU WOULD HAVE TO HAVE A TRANSFUSION!
Safety rules for donating blood
In the 48 hours preceding donating, drink like there's no tomorrow (water, of course). Also, EAT! This is not time to be weight conscious. Your life could depend on it.
In the hour before you give, please drink a significant amount of water for you.
Pay attention to what your blood pressure is. If it is lower than normal, this may not be a good day for you. I felt absolutely fine, no problems, that's one reason I agreed to give even though my BP was 88/66, pretty low for me. I know now, too late, that dehydration doesn't necessarily have clear symtpoms. I was extremely dehydrated. The BP was telling me something wasn't right and I had no business giving blood that day. So NO MATTER HOW MUCH THEY ENCOURAGE YOU TO GIVE, DO NOT! I have O Neg, something they push for, so I think that played into it. Trust me, they will not pay for you saying yes, and passing out,
While your blood is flowing, do not pump fast, trying to hurry up the process, rather, try to time yourself. Ask the healthcare person to help you monitor, so you do not give faster than ten minutes, preferably 11 minutes. Heck, if you want to take 15, take it! It's your life, not theirs!
After giving, sit in the canteen area for at least 15 minutes. They may not have signs stating this, and they may not have people watching to make sure you take the time. No one timed me, there was no sign suggesting that I should wait at least 15 or 20 minutes. Sure, commonsense should help here, but I had places to go, things to do, no healthcare provider was paying attention, so I got the unspoken message that when I felt fine to go, I could go. Tragic mistake!
Also, if you have gluten allergies, or any other food allergies, be sure to take a snack with you. I didn't even think about this! The director of the donor services stated that they were supposed to have gluten free snacks. I think that's great that they intend to carry them. But I should have carried something with me, as I always do, just in case. It was not something I thought about, and the snack was in my pocketbook, in the car. The coke that I had instead did not settle well on my stomach later on, which started the domino events.
Once you leave
Once you get home, drink more water. In fact, within the next hour, plan on drinking at least 12 to 16 ounces. The instructions I carried home said within the next 24 hours to drink more water. That's ridiculous! Drink, Drink, and Drink some more, the rest of that day, and then some. Especially if it's in the summer, like mine was.
if you get sick feeling, do not sit up and put your head down, as my instructions said to do on my donor sheet. WRONG! Lie down, with your feet slightly elevated. Lie on the floor, so you will not fall off and hurt yourself, or hit your head. Use your cell phone and call a loved one to let them know of the situation, or call an ambulance. Lie on your side if you have eaten, in case you throw up. I suffered as much from the physiological problems of dehydration as I did from the concussion. It's very serious!
Finally, feel good that you probably saved a life by donating blood.
12/15/12 Hillary Rodham Clinton falls from being severely dehydrated and suffers a concussion.
Read about her subsequent double vision at
7 Months Post Trauma
My neurologist is still holding out room for improvement, even though we've passed the initial six month mark. I'm hopeful, but more accepting of things as they are. I still don't have headaches, I'm better organized, and I'm not timid speaking in front of folks as lay reader or in other areas. So all in all, I'll keep that, as huge improvements, and the part of not finishing the jobs because they simply "vanish," well, positively speaking, I've just got an excuse for not getting the job done!
This absolutely gorgeous pink and blue horizon were at Sullivan's Island as we visited nearby Charleston, SC for our 25th anniversary. The sky was the most marvelous sky you could imagine, almost like seeing a rainbow!
A Year and a Half Later!
An update is needed, but not much has changed! I continue to find the concussion mixed blessings, as I am no longer afraid of anything ~ except lions and tigers and bears, of course! I do not have headaches now ~ that is quite a blessing! I am ambidextrous to a certain extent now. Weird, I know! But it helps at times!
The downside is not being able to stay on task sometimes (a case of ADCD ~ for non Facebook users, a cartoon on getting distracted while doing housework), and I have a pretty bad memory! I don't even want to admit just how bad it is! I am trying to regain my footing, and keep trying to find little tricks to help trigger my memory and to stay on task and not veer off into left field. Maybe good in baseball, but not so good otherwise! I am hopeful time will improve that; but it's not likely!
Thank you all for cheering me on, my family and friends, certainly e-friends included! It has been challenging and rewarding, enlightening, and I face the future fearlessly! God bless you all!
Is THIS the end?
I certainly hope not!
Concussions and Head Trauma in our Youth... - ...for the sake of a game?!
Do you think that fast walking and running... - ...can potentially damage the brain?
I enjoy fast walking, it's great exercise! But lately I've been noticing things going on "upstairs" that just seem like I was bumping my brain every time I was walking ~ strange, I know! So I've started trying to soften my step a bit, which is actually increasing my exercise! It's great exercise to walk smoothly and not step hard on our heels.
UPDATE: The above was written not long after the concussion, and I actually did feel things "upstairs" as I moved along, walking. Now I do NOT notice them, so I don't know what was going on. Perhaps you would like to comment on this theory!
Do you think it can do potential harm, long-term to our brain?
Yes, it's possible ~ I think I'll pay attention next time and see
Leave a message of encouragement for others ~ or any other thoughts!