Jiri is a firefighter who had his latest concussion after the car he was driving was in a T bone collision. The car that T boned him was actually swerving to avoid someone making an unsafe turn. Jiri didn’t hit his head in the accident, and actually got out of his car, letting his Emergency Services auto pilot kick in, checking to see if everyone else was ok, but hours later he went to see a doctor for what he thought was a ‘standard concussion’ . He now experiences symptoms such as double vision, problems with focal vision, reading standard texts, photophobia (intolerance to light), sensitivity to noise, headaches 90% of the time, some cognitive difficulties, psychological issues, focus memory, and spatial awareness issues. As well as dizziness and vestibular issues, proprioception issues, sleep problems and the inability to workout, among others . I have overcome some of my nauseaIn Jiri’s words, “I have good days, and I have bad days, good days are getting better, but they typically don’t last.”
I am not a writer, nor do I play one on TV, but here it goes.
I thought this would be a great way to help others on their road to recovery. I was so glad I stumbled upon this while cruising the web looking for quick fixes to this disaster that is draining the energy from me. I suffered my concussion about 10 months ago. I have had a lot, in fact over 10, that I can think of. Some of them “minor”. I went to work a night shift after a couple of them, thinking nothing of a little fog and a headache. I was wrong. They were all serious. I should have treated them as such. I can’t go back. It may not have changed anything, and there is no use lamenting that now.
Truthfully, I am writing this for selfish reasons as well. I need help. I need to get this out. My family’s patience has worn thin from my complaints., My co-workers try to understand, but they don’t. My friends, some retired from the game of hockey due to concussions, can sympathize, yes, but understand, no. Everyone’s brain is different. We can compare notes, but none of us knows exactly what being trapped in the grips of this is like for the person across from us.
I had a great week last week, and that’s why I wanted to write! I had so many positives. I wanted to share.” Look everyone it does get better!” But that joy was fleeting. I am back, headache and all, under fluorescent lights, typing with my sunglasses on. I will leave with a headache and trudge through my day. I will drive home, carefully, I will take Tylenol, again, and again. I will hope the weather will stabilize. I will try to sneak in a shower before I have to take care of my young children. Why can’t I just be the energetic Dad that I once was, chasing them up and down the stairs, playing Fireman with my son, playing hide and seek with my daughter? I was so accomplished before! I loved setting goals. I had chased down my dream career. I was in the gym 6 days a week! I had my deadlifts through the roof! What great work I had done! I had the world by the nu…..ummmm well, I was on top of the world! What have I accomplished lately? I can’t do my job, I have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety. That’s not me! How is this possible?
Well, that is me now. Every day I hear those voices of doubt creep into my head, saying “You are weak.” “You are lazy.” “You can’t even work a full day at an office.” Every day when I hear those thoughts I think, how dumb I was that I defined success that way. That stuff wasn’t hard! THIS is hard. I accomplish more by getting out of bed, sick, tired and dizzy, smiling at my children through my headache, living my life everyday, albeit slower than before, THAT is an accomplishment.
Oftentimes we look at the progress we make and think, “Oh wow! I managed 5 hour work days instead of 3.”, as if it is no big deal. Our accomplishments, our achievements, our progress, takes way more effort and mental fortitude than anything we have done before. I have had many injuries. I have overcome many things in my life. I was setting all kinds of personal records and accomplishing all sorts of goals. Those pale in comparison to the accomplishment of taking care of my kids every day through this mess. I am not invincible, I am not a super hero, but I am stronger now than I ever was before.
Celebrate your success. Even if success is sitting on the porch in the sun for an hour, re define how you view success. If effort was how we defined success, then I have won the gold medal at the Olympics 10 times over in the past 10 months. Give yourself some credit and allow hope to stick around. I hope that this isn’t too cheesy. It is, after all, my first post, I hope to write more about specifics in my recovery, what has helped, what has not. I am dizzy as all get out now and will cut this short. Share your stories, I find inspiration in everybody’s battle. Good luck and don’t forget to smile, after all we are all still alive.