As I am finally starting to slip out of the everyday-I’m-dizzy dizziness, I figured it’s time to share some info I learned along the way. Mostly, so others who are dealing with concussions can learn from my experience. (And what a SUCKY experience it was/is!) Here are some of the more upsetting/annoying things in no particular order…
1) Your resting heart rate and blood pressure may go up.
As an avid exercise fan, I always had a low resting heart rate so when I started having palpitations and a feeling of my heart beating fast I went to the ER. They hooked me up to machines and found that my EKG was abnormal. My resting heart rate was high. They sent me home and told me to follow up with a cardiologist, which I did the next day. They couldn’t find a problem. What no one knew — and they should have — was that it was actually pretty normal for someone a month out of a concussion to have a high resting heart rate. I finally found an article that linked to this study, but not before undergoing a TON of cardiac tests that cost me and my insurance company thousands.
2) Dizziness — even from a concussion — can make you nauseous.
During the past four months I have lost about seven pounds. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but it’s actually probably more. I couldn’t figure out why I was gagging on food and having to force myself to eat. My vestibular therapist helped me sort it out. I was doing a walking exercise and suddenly felt dizzy and then nauseous. A light bulb went off in my brain. Again, wish someone had told me that before I assumed I had something seriously wrong with me.
3) You will get lots of strange symptoms that don’t seem to be related to your head.
There are so many symptoms I had that had nothing to do with the common concussion symptoms of headaches, sleep issues, dizziness and fatigue. For instance, one of the things that happened very early on was that I started having severe night sweats. I woke up drenched in sweat and so incredibly thirsty. At the time, I wondered if I was going through an early menopause — it was that bad. And then just as suddenly as it started it went away. I couldn’t find any research on the topic, but I found a bunch of regular people posting online who were having the same issues.
4) You need to change the way you eat and supplement yourself.
It takes an incredible amount of energy, protein and nutrients to repair a brain, so I did the research and started eating extra meat and taking B-12s, omega-3s and a multivitamin.
Earlier this year the FDA came out with a consumer update that said Omega-3s cannot cure or prevent concussions. If you read it, you understand why. They don’t want people taking omegas to prevent a concussion or going back to play too soon after being concussed. I get it. But I also read plenty of studies that find that omega-3s are really, really good for your brain and DO help it repair itself. This April study from the American Society for Nutrition outlines why Omega-3s, in particular, are so important:
Preclinical investigations demonstrate that dietary consumption of DHA provided either before or after [minor traumatic brain injury (mTBI)] improves functional outcomes, such as spatial learning and memory. Mechanistic investigations suggest that DHA influences multiple aspects of the pathologic molecular signaling cascade that occurs after mTBI.
5) You may be anxious and depressed. No, change that. You’re probably anxious and depressed.
This one is well-supported but no one told me that I would have mental problems following a concussion. I should have guessed it when I started crying and hugging a mud-covered stranger as we were leaving the scene of my accident. I wish someone had. Still, I don’t think it would have prepared me for the crap storm of sadness, anxiety, fear and terror that I’ve been through. Wah, wah. Yeah, I know it sounds whiny to complain with a concussion, but trust me, it really, really sucks.
6) Your family is going to have to change.
Six months ago I did everything in my house. My husband, as he says, did anything I asked him to do. Trouble was, I was such a control freak that I didn’t ask him for much. Asking someone to take on a whole new role isn’t welcome or easy. It’s been a learning experience for both of us. And kids? Well, they don’t like watching Mommy “brain rest” every day. They don’t like having to skip things or miss things or have their lives turned around, either. So yeah, things definitely change.
7) People don’t always understand.
I guess this is true with every illness or injury, but there are people to this day who really don’t get why I am not able to go somewhere. (Or wasn’t able to go somewhere.) Or why I would cancel a vacation or not be able to work for a while. You can tell them, but unless you have a cast on they aren’t going to get it.