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Life as a Dizzy Shut-In

When you're dizzy you need to switch from a rocking, moveable office chair to one that is stationary. Like this one from when I was a little girl.

When you’re dizzy you need to switch from a rocking, moveable office chair to one that is stationary. Like this one from when I was a little girl.

It’s been a while since I blogged regularly. For a variety of reasons, really, but lately it’s because I have been busy recovering from a concussion. I have post-concussion syndrome, actually.

What does that mean?

In the beginning it meant I had a headache, was dizzy and exhausted all the time. (If you’ve never been dizzy count your blessings. Dizzy sucks.) It was hard looking at a screen — TV, cell phone, computer, it didn’t matter. I limited my screen time to getting work done. (It’s amazing how we get what we need to get done.) My social interactions dwindled to nothing. Telephone conversations hurt my head. Parties hurt my head. I had a very short fuse and no filter, either, which meant I said stuff that pissed people off. When someone made an inappropriate and rude comment at a block party, I couldn’t ignore it. I snapped and left. When someone did something that I felt was unfair at another gathering, I spoke my mind about it.

The weird thing about post-concussion, though, is that you look fine. You look like yourself so people don’t really have patience or sympathy for your mouth or your ailment. Dizzy? What’s that? You have a concussion? How can a concussion make it so that you’re not yourself? People just don’t understand. It’s been a long ten weeks but now the fatigue and headaches are mostly gone.  I have lingering dizziness, though, and that makes the social isolation continue.

For instance, on Friday a bestie asked me to come to the movies with her and some other girls. I wanted to go but I just couldn’t fathom sitting in a movie theater for an hour. Besides, they were seeing Gone Girl and I didn’t think I could sit through that without post-concussion syndrome so I said no. Yesterday night my husband went to our monthly bowling league. I stayed home. Second month in a row. My vestibular therapist had counseled against going unless I was feeling “100 percent before I left the house.” Bowling alleys are provoking, she says. The noise, the people, the lights. Your eyes need gaze stability looking at the pins.

She has me doing all these exercises to train my brain out of the dizziness and they evoke dizziness so no, I wasn’t 100 percent. Another night getting “brain rest.” I painted with my two kids and the little girl who spent the day with my oldest. I watched The Breakfast Club. I ate apple babka. (Oh, another issue is that the concussion took away my appetite, exacerbated my stomach issues, and caused intense bursts of anxiety. I ended up losing like six or seven pounds. As my husband likes to say, I look like I need to eat a few dozen sandwiches so I am doing a lot of carb loading now to gain back some of the weight.)

But every day I feel a little bit better. I see my progress. Today while staring at the B taped to my wall, I was able to shake my head 40 times in 30 seconds. A few days ago I did 40 shakes in a minute. Progress. Earlier this weekend I was able to have a great conversation with a friend and I didn’t feel drained at all. Work is getting easy again. And faster. I feel like myself again when I sit in front of the computer! That’s huge. I don’t need to use my finger to read on a screen. I’m blogging and it feels good. Good to share what I am feeling. Good that my fingers are flying across the keyboard like they always have. Yes, the vestibular therapist said I will have good days and bad. Yes, I still need to take brain rest for five to ten minutes every few hours, but it’s progress. And that’s a good thing.

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